White House Mulling Reopening Obamacare Enrollment Over Coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal first reported that President Donald Trump‘s administration is considering a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. The reporting is now being confirmed by Politico.

The publication received a statement from a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spokesperson, confirming that the administration is indeed considering opening an enrollment period for health care coverage because of the coronavirus emergency.

A number of Democratic-leaning states have already reopened enrollment, encouraging citizens to get covered. However, the vast majority of the states use the federal marketplace.

Earlier this week, health insurance lobbies said that they would support the Trump administration reopening enrollment as long as the government covered losses. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans urged the United States Congress to consider this in upcoming economic stimulus packages.

As Politico notes, “a spokesperson for CMS, which oversees the insurance marketplaces, said people should also check HealthCare.gov to see if they already qualify for a special enrollment period because they lost their job or other circumstances.”

Trump — who has long criticized Obamacare and vowed to repeal and replace it — has been accused of failing the test of leadership as the coronavirus pandemic rages across the country. U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly warned the president about the possibility of an outbreak occurring, but he downplayed the threat.

Both the administration and the United States Congress have since undertaken measures to combat the pandemic while introducing various economic stimulus measures meant to help corporations, small businesses, and workers weather the looming economic crisis.

The virus has reached the White House as well. During the daily coronavirus press conference on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that both he and the second lady will be tested. “Given the unique position that I have as vice president and as the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, both I and my wife will be tested for the coronavirus later this afternoon,” he said.

Later in the day, as CNN reported, Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary, confirmed that both the vice president and the second lady have tested negative. The decision was made after it was revealed that a member of the vice president’s office tested positive for coronavirus. The staffer, according to Pence, is “doing well” and only had “mild” symptoms for a day and a half. The individual has not been at the White House since Monday.

Neither Pence nor President Donald Trump had contact with the staffer, and authorities have reportedly traced the individual’s contacts.