CORONAVIRUS: Booker Urges Senate Leaders to Create Special Enrollment Period in Fourth Relief Package
Booker was first lawmaker to author bill seeking to create special enrollment period
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker today urged Senate leaders to include a provision in the next COVID-19 relief package that would create a special enrollment period for HealthCare.gov so individuals currently without health insurance can sign up for coverage. He was the first lawmaker to author legislation creating such an enrollment period.
“In the absence of administrative action, Congress must act,” Booker wrote In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Establishing a SEP [special enrollment period] would help Americans get the affordable, quality coverage they need to both protect their and their loved ones’ health and their financial security.”
“While states that run their own health insurance marketplaces have the ability to create a SEP [special enrollment period] on their own, the 38 states that utilize the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace – including New Jersey – are dependent upon federal action to open a SEP,” Booker added.
Booker also warned against siphoning off limited hospital funding from the CARES Act to pay for uninsured patients, a maneuver the Trump Administration recently signaled it was considering. Instead, he argued, the focus should be on making sure as many people as possible get health insurance, so health care providers aren’t forced to stretch limited funding.
“Health care providers are counting on this funding to help them acquire the resources they need to respond to COVID-19…Forcing [them] to stretch this limited funding to also cover uncompensated care when other alternatives exist, such as a SEP [special enrollment period], will only hinder their efforts,” Booker argued in the letter.
Full text of the letter is here.
Booker was the first lawmaker to propose legislation that would create a special enrollment period so that millions of individuals impacted by COVID-19 could access coverage. In addition to creating a special enrollment window, the bill would also require health insurance plans to provide testing and preventative services free of charge. This measure, which Booker was also the first to propose, was incorporated in the two Coronavirus relief packages recently passed by the Senate. Millions of Americans will now no longer face a cost barrier for Coronavirus testing or preventative services.