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Maryland AG Joins Letter Urging Federal Government to Increase Health Coverage Assistance Outreach During COVID-19

April 14th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh today joined a multistate coalition in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), urging them to immediately develop and implement an outreach plan to inform the millions of Americans who have lost—or may lose—their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage about the Special Enrollment Period available to them through Healthcare.gov, the federal Exchange, and state-based marketplaces.  In the letter, the attorneys general highlight the importance of providing families with the information and tools they need to navigate their health care options and access coverage during the unprecedented international health care crisis posed by COVID-19.

 

“Many Americans have lost their jobs, their health insurance and their ability to pay for health care because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Attorney General Frosh.  “It’s imperative for HHS to let Americans know they are eligible to enroll in coverage.”

 

In the letter, the attorneys general highlight that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides the flexibility necessary to help people wrestling with the loss of their livelihood and their family’s health care coverage during this critical time.  The ACA requires the HHS Secretary to provide yearly open enrollment periods on the Exchanges to permit individuals to enroll in new or different health care coverage.  Outside of this period, individuals may enroll in coverage through the Exchange only if they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to certain life events such as loss of employment that offered health care coverage.  As most Americans obtain their health care coverage through their employer, the coalition urges the HHS to inform the public of the potential for replacing coverage through Healthcare.gov or, in Maryland, www.marylandhealthconnection.gov.  In 2018, over half of individuals under age 65 had insurance through an employer. 

 

The importance of this outreach will only increase as the economic upheaval of this crisis continues to expand.  A new study by Health Management Associates estimates that the number of people receiving coverage from an employer could decline by up to 35 million due to layoffs caused by the pandemic.  This same study estimates that the economic impact to the labor market could disproportionately impact the roughly 58 million non-elderly individuals who have employer-sponsored coverage and who earn less than $50,000 per year.  This heavily hit population could greatly benefit from navigating their options on the Exchanges where they may qualify for subsidies to help pay for health care coverage.

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