Maui Coronavirus Updates

Hawaiʻi AG Urges For Special Enrollment For Healthcare Coverage

April 4, 2020, 11:36 AM HST
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Clare Connors

Hawaiʻi Attorney General Clare E. Connors today joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), urging them to reconsider their 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 uncertainty as a result of COVID-19 – to obtain the healthcare coverage they need during this critical time.

“At a time when health care is more important than ever, it makes no sense to refuse to hold a special enrollment period so that more people can get coverage,” said Attorney General Connors.  “Our state relies on the federal exchange and we join our fellow states in urging the Administration to reverse its position on this matter.”

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 healthcare. Many people may be prevented from obtaining treatment because they lack healthcare 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 healthcare and are more likely to delay obtaining care due to fears of the cost,” a press release added.

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“The Trump Administration has long touted choice and “informed healthcare decisions” as the bedrock of its healthcare policies, but now refuses to give Americans the option of obtaining comprehensive healthcare coverage to combat this unprecedented healthcare care crisis.”

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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 Hawaiʻi, 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 healthcare they need during this critical time.

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

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