WASHINGTON, DC – After the Trump Administration spent four years trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Joe Biden is taking action this week to help more Americans purchase affordable health insurance by reopening the federal Healthcare.gov marketplace selling ACA health plans and lowering recently erected barriers to joining Medicaid.

In Rhode Island – and many other states that host their own exchanges – Governors have already reopened state health insurance exchanges to help ensure people can purchase comprehensive coverage.  But the Trump Administration refused to reopen the enrollment window for Americans in other states that don’t have their own exchanges and have to use the federal exchange to access HealthCare.gov.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who urged President Trump to take this action 10 months ago, hailed the move as a positive step and is encouraging President Biden to bolster the law and provide states with additional tools to expand affordable health coverage amidst a pandemic.

Senator Reed says the federal government should increase investments in helping states connect people with affordable health insurance on the ACA exchanges; remove barriers that prevent people from accessing Medicaid; and reverse the Trump Administration’s expansion of ‘junk plans’ which cost less up front and are of limited-duration, but lack coverage for essential health benefits, increase deductibles, and don’t cover minimum benefits required by the ACA.

“Reopening the ACA enrollment window is a smart step toward improving public health and preventing millions of people becoming uninsured amid a pandemic.  I commend President Biden for taking swift, bold action, but Congress must do its part too and help provide families, communities, and states with the tools they need to ensure everyone can see a doctor and access the care they need,” said Reed.

After enactment of the ACA, also referred to as “Obamacare,” the percentage of uninsured Americans declined from over 14 percent of all Americans down to about 8 percent.  But after President Trump took office the rate of uninsured Americans rose sharply from 2016 to 2019 and “the number of Americans without health insurance jumped by about 2.3 million, and that loss of health coverage led to at least 3,399 deaths and possibly as many as 25,180, a new analysis found.”

“Access to affordable health care was on the ballot in this presidential election and the American people made it overwhelmingly clear that they support the Affordable Care Act and want the law upheld,” noted Senator Reed, who further called on the federal government to restore federal outreach and enrollment funding that was slashed by the Trump Administration to assist nonprofits and states in promoting the availability of affordable coverage options and helping users navigate through the process of comparing prices and benefits and finding a plan that meets their needs.

Reed also wants to boost federal subsidies to help young, healthy people enroll and afford their own insurance, thereby increasing the size of the pool, lowering risk, and reducing premium costs for all health consumers.

“This pandemic has exposed serious disparities and gaps in our health care system.  Congress must work together to help address them, lower costs, and expand access to affordable health coverage.  President Trump backed a lawsuit to strip health care from millions and leave our economy in even worse shape.  We need to do the opposite: get more Americans covered, protect public health, and get our economy working again,” said Reed.