If there could be any silver lining in the current coronavirus pandemic, it would have to be the ability of the crisis to change the minds of those Americans who fail to see the need for guaranteed universal healthcare for every American — the type of affordable care provided by every other major industrialized nation.
Yet, despite the flaws in a healthcare system that relies on employers to provide health insurance for a majority of Americans — at a time when hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs and economists are predicting unemployment may reach 32.1% — a level higher than even during the Great Depression of the 1930s — the Trump administration not only continues to try to undermine Obamacare by fighting to remove coverage of pre-existing conditions in court battles but has now decided to not move forward with the previously proposed reopening of enrollment in the program — a move that could have provided an affordable backstop for those uninsured Americans.
Typically, enrollment in the insurance programs established by the Affordable Care Act is limited to a short period at the end of the year, but last week the Trump administration floated the idea of reopening enrollment by relaunching Healthcare.gov for a special enrollment period.
According to Politico, however, a White House official said last night that the administration had decided against doing so and was now “exploring other options.”
Exactly what those other options may be remains to be seen.
In the meantime, while Trump and his Justice Department continue to try to further undermine the Affordable Care Act in the courts, those fortunate enough to live in a state with a Democratic majority in their state government are likely to be able to enroll in Obamacare through state insurance markets that have been reopened due to the magnitude of the coronavirus crisis.
Also, those who have lost their health insurance along with their employment will be eligible for a special Affordable Care Act enrollment period for a limited period after their job loss due to protections built into the original legislation.
One can only hope that even those moderate Democrats — and even some open-minded Independents and Republicans — who had reservations about Medicare-for-All in the past will now understand that union-negotiated healthcare plans don’t help anyone once their jobs disappear and that a national universal healthcare plan is absolutely necessary and needs to be implemented as soon as possible.
Original reporting by Susannah Luthi at Politico.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.