Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Draws Nearly 14 Million Sign-Ups

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Biden administration increases outreach and subsidizes health coverage

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Enrollment has remained largely stagnant in recent years, with approximately 11.4 million subscribers signed up for coverage for 2020. Advancing Obama-era health legislation has been a major campaign goal for President Biden and Democrats, who sought to drive sign-ups with financial aid. to consumers.

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The administration is attributing the rapid sign-up pace to Democrats’ $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which includes a two-year temporary extension of premium-lowering subsidies for millions of consumers. The law also provided subsidies to more people with incomes above the federal poverty level, without requiring them to pay a specific percentage of their income on healthcare.

The Biden administration extended the 2021 open enrollment period by 30 days, starting on November 1. The extended period came after a special sign-up period from mid-February to August 15, when more than 2.5 million people signed up for coverage.

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And the administration also launched one of the largest outreach campaigns ever, with no-cost sign-up support available to consumers. Officials increased funding for Navigator, which helps people sign up for coverage, with less than $80 million in grant funding.

Chiquita Brooks-Lasur, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Monday that the number of sign-ups shows that Congressional relief legislation is working.

“The American Rescue Plan helped reduce health care premiums, resulting in record-setting savings for millions of people nationwide,” she said. “For those who need affordable healthcare, there is still time to enroll.”

Republicans opposing the health law say it has raised premiums and represents an overreach of the government. His repeated attempts to repeal the ACA or dismiss it by the courts have failed.

The Biden administration’s efforts are in stark contrast to the actions of the Trump administration, which sought to weaken the ACA. Trump administration officials cut funding for sailors and reduced advertising and outreach for the ACA from $100 million to $10 million.

Democrats say the ACA has helped lower the uninsured rate and provided needed coverage, especially during a pandemic marked by significant churn in job markets.

Democrats are seeking to preserve expanded subsidies in Biden’s social spending bill, which remains in effect until 2022, but the outlook remains uncertain as Sen. Joe Manchin opposes a nearly $2 trillion package. Some Democrats are interested in breaking up the health component as their legislative vehicle.

During the current open-enrollment period, more than 9.7 million people enrolled or were automatically re-enrolled in coverage in 33 states that use HealthCare.gov. by 15 December. In the 18 states and the District of Columbia that use its own exchanges, more than four million people selected plans or were re-enrolled in coverage by December 25, officials said.

The total nationwide plan selection includes the two million subscribers, or 15% of the total, who are new to ACA coverage for 2022. Florida, Texas and Georgia—which are among the 12 states that haven’t adopted a full Medicaid expansion—see some of the largest sign-up numbers.

Write Stephanie Armour at [email protected]

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