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ACA Pathways: Special Enrollment Period for Exchanges and Other Objectives Announced to Increase Access to Healthcare

February 01, 2021

President Joe Biden has signed two executive actions to strengthen Americans’ access to affordable health care. Among the actions is an executive order aimed at expanding enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid, and a memorandum to rescind regulations on reproductive health access.

Biden’s executive order on health care access is aimed to increase access to the Health Insurance Marketplace. It is expected that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will open a “Special Enrollment Period” in the Marketplace from February 15 through May 15. According to the White House, this three-month enrollment period is intended to “give Americans that need health care coverage during this global pandemic the opportunity to sign up.”

Additionally, Biden’s executive order will direct federal agencies to reconsider rules and policies that could limit Americans’ access to health care. According to the White House, agencies are directed to reexamine:

  • Policies that undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions, including complications related to COVID-19;
  • Demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the ACA that may reduce coverage or undermine the programs, including work requirements;
  • Policies that undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or other markets for health insurance;
  • Policies that make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and the ACA; and
  • Policies that reduce affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents.

In addition to Biden’s executive order, his memorandum on family planning and reproductive health asks the HHS to consider rescinding domestic rules under its Title X family planning program, which prohibits certain clinics from receiving federal funds for abortion-related services.

More Information
A White House Fact Sheet is available here. For more information about this ACA Pathways or about any other health care reform‐related provisions, please contact your Burnham Consultant or Burnham at:

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