COLUMBUS, Ohio (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service will extend access to HealthCare.gov’s market for subsidized health plans Special Enrollment Period (SEP) until August 15.
The extension will give consumers three additional months to take advantage of new savings through the American Rescue Plan. As a result of the American Rescue Plan, the savings could decrease premiums for many by $50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month.
Biden made the remarks as a part of his trip to Ohio marking the 11th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act and showcasing health insurance cost cuts.
“America does big things. 11 years ago today, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act,” said Biden. “Historic achievement that would not have been possible without the vision and determination of one of the most successful presidents in recent history, Barack Obama.”
The president’s trip also intended to draw attention to his first major legislation, the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, but his visit came just hours after he urged Congress to tighten gun control measures following the mass shooting at a Colorado supermarket.
In an address to the nation before flying to Ohio, Biden called for a ban on assault weapons and closing background check loopholes.
Biden mentioned the Colorado supermarket mass shooting before he began his remarks on healthcare. He said that he had spoken to the Attorney General and the FBI Director.
He also added, “My heart goes out to the victims’ families and the survivors. I want to commend the heroic actions of Eric Talley, father of 7 children.”
Biden visited Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital as a part of his “Help is Here” tour to promote a $100 million grant the hospital received under Obamacare to upgrade its radiation oncology department, according to White House officials.
“This place is a source of hope,” said Biden.
Newly minted Health Secretary Xavier Becerra will echo Biden’s comments Tuesday in Carson City, Nevada, and join a Florida-themed Zoom event. Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff will pitch the relief bill in Omaha, Nebraska.
The numbers show that the Biden administration does have a product that consumers may want to hear about.
The COVID-19 legislation cuts premiums paid by a hypothetical 64-year-old making $58,000 from $1,075 a month to about $413, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates. A 45-year-old making $19,300 would pay zero in premiums as compared with about $67 on average before the law. People who have even a brief spell of unemployment this year can get a standard plan for zero premium and reduced copays and deductibles.
New and existing customers will be able to take advantage of the savings starting April 1 by going to HealthCare.gov. States that run their own health insurance markets will offer the same enhanced assistance, although timetables for implementation may vary.
By spreading the word about the higher subsidies, the White House is hoping to super-charge enrollment. But the 11 million people who already have private plans through the health law will also benefit.
Former President Donald Trump did not open up a special enrollment period last year.
Republicans see Biden’s subsidies as an example of Democratic overreach on the COVID-19 bill. Policy consultant Brian Blase, a former health care adviser in the Trump White House, expects most of the additional taxpayer assistance will merely substitute for what private households would have otherwise paid.
Their complaints notwithstanding, Republicans may face a political dilemma. The higher health care subsidies are keyed to the pandemic and expire by the end of 2022. That will let Democrats set up election-year votes to make the new benefits permanent, or add even more.
The COVID-19 bill follows Biden’s strategy of building on the Obama-era health law to move the U.S. toward coverage for all.
Another provision offers a dozen or so holdout states led by Republicans a financial inducement to expand Medicaid to more low-income adults. So far there have been no takers.
It’s unclear how big a dent the Biden legislation will make in the number of uninsured people, which has risen to an estimated 33 million or more.
But it represents the biggest expansion of federal help for health insurance since the ACA’s enactment. Obamacare not only survived President Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to tear it down, it’s now getting new life.
Because health insurance is so complicated, consumers are going to have to do their homework to figure out if there’s something in the legislation for them. But people who qualify for higher tax credits won’t lose out. If they don’t claim the enhanced assistance immediately, they’re still entitled to the money when they file their 2021 tax returns next year.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. All reporting by AP’s Alexandra Jaffe and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Reuters’ Jarrett Renshaw.