Washington, D.C. — Today, President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders to expand access to health care coverage, including reopening enrollment through the Affordable Care Act marketplace by triggering a COVID-19 special enrollment period (SEP) and rolling back Trump-era policies designed to inhibit access to Medicaid. Maura Calsyn, interim vice president of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
From allowing states to impose burdensome work and certification requirements for Medicaid to shortening the period to sign up for coverage on HealthCare.gov, the previous administration took numerous steps to restrict access to health insurance. In creating a COVID-19 SEP, like CAP recommended last year, and taking early steps to tear down barriers to accessing Medicaid, President Biden is turning the page and making it easier for the American people to acquire and maintain coverage. With more than 25 million Americans having tested positive for COVID-19 over the past year, these steps could provide meaningful security to thousands of families.
Congress should build on these actions by guaranteeing that future public health emergencies automatically trigger a SEP and by passing the president’s American Rescue Plan, which would lower or eliminate the amount families pay in health care premiums by boosting their financial assistance.
The president also signed orders to ensure access to reproductive health care, including by rescinding the “global gag rule”—which prevents U.S. global health funding from going to nongovernmental organizations that offer abortion-related information, referrals, or services—and by directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to initiate repealing the “domestic gag rule,” which gutted the nation’s only domestic family planning program, undermining access to critical reproductive and preventive services such as cancer screenings and birth control. Jamille Fields Allsbrook, director of women’s health and rights with CAP’s Women’s Initiative, released the following statement:
Today’s executive orders affirm the president’s belief that health care decisions should be free of government interference. These actions mark an important first step in undoing the harms of the former administration’s unprecedented attacks and politicization of reproductive health and rights. Access to a full range of health care services, including reproductive health care, is critical to the health and economic security of all people, domestically and abroad, especially for communities of color, whose reproductive autonomy has been restricted for far too long.
There remains much work to be done to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice, including repealing the Hyde and Helms Amendments and expanding access to medication abortion, among other things. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration to fulfill the promise of Roe v. Wade and to ensure meaningful access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, for all.
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