President Biden will reopen enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act exchanges on Thursday as part of a series of executive actions related to health care, taking a step to help uninsured Americans that his predecessor rejected.
It’s Biden’s first move toward delivering on his campaign promise to bolster the landmark health reform law that he championed as vice president. And it comes as more Americans could be facing the loss of coverage because of the pandemic-fueled economic downturn.
Open enrollment on the federal exchanges, which the Trump administration cut in half to six weeks, ended on Dec. 15. But Biden has the power to reopen sign-ups, which will allow the uninsured to select policies under a special enrollment period. Biden’s order calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to reopen enrollment to those who need coverage from Feb. 15 until May 15.
Former President Donald Trump refused to do this last year, despite heavy lobbying from elected officials of both parties and the health care industry. Eleven states that run their own Obamacare exchanges, along with the District of Columbia, allowed their uninsured residents to obtain coverage outside the usual time frame.
According to draft calendar document viewed by CNN’s Betsy Klein, Thursday’s executive orders will focus on health care. Biden will also sign measures aimed at strengthening Medicaid, as well as rescinding the Mexico City Policy, which bans the US government from funding foreign nonprofits that perform or promote abortions, and reviewing the Title X abortion referral restrictions.
Some background: Biden has turned to executive actions in his first days in office to swiftly start putting in place his agenda and to wipe out that of his predecessor.
He has signed orders on mandating masks on federal property, reversing Trump’s ban on transgender Americans joining the military, providing additional nutrition assistance and accelerating the manufacturing and delivery of supplies for vaccination and testing.
This week, his first full week in office, Biden has had “themed days” to tackle different issues of his agenda:
- Monday: Buy America
- Tuesday: Equity
- Wednesday: Climate
- Thursday: Health Care
- Friday: Immigration