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Attorney General Josh Stein Leads 22-State Coalition Urging Trump Administration to Instate A Special Enrollment Period on Healthcare.gov to Help Millions of Consumers with COVID-19 Costs

For Immediate Release:
Friday, April 3, 2020

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider its shortsighted decision to deny a special enrollment period on HealthCare.Gov during the current worldwide pandemic. In the letter, the attorneys general argue that the federal government should take action to make it possible for Americans across the country – who are facing a potentially grave need for medical care as a result of COVID-19 – to obtain health care coverage.

“Now, more than ever, is the time to focus on keeping people healthy,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “We should be doing everything we can to help people get the health care they need – not making it harder to access. Through no fault of their own, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians have lost their jobs – and for many of them their health care coverage too. That’s why I am urging HHS to allow a special enrollment period.”

In the letter, the attorneys general point out that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of individuals have lost their jobs—and with their jobs, their ability to pay for health care. Many people may be prevented from obtaining treatment because they lack health care coverage, or face financial ruin if they seek care. People working on the front lines in grocery stores, food service, transportation, and sanitation are suffering the brunt of the pandemic as they often lack health insurance and work jobs that do not provide sick leave. Because they are uninsured, they are less likely to have a regular place to obtain health care and are more likely to delay obtaining care due to fears of the cost. The Trump administration, which has long touted choice and “informed health care decisions” as the bedrock of its health care policies, now refuses to give Americans the option of obtaining comprehensive health care coverage to combat this unprecedented health crisis.

The attorneys general also highlight that a national solution to this problem requires federal action. While some states run their own health insurance exchanges and may independently extend enrollment, 38 states, including North Carolina, rely on HealthCare.Gov to run their exchanges. The federal government has the legal ability to call for a special enrollment period and must take decisive action so that people in those 38 states can obtain the health care they need during this critical time.

In sending the letter, Attorney General Stein joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the letter is available here.

More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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