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Governor Whitmer Leads Coalition of 12 Governors Calling on the Trump Administration to Increase Access to Affordable Health Care by Opening a Special Enrollment Period During COVID-19 Crisis


April 13, 2020 

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Governor Whitmer Leads Coalition of 12 Governors Calling on the Trump Administration to Increase Access to Affordable Health Care by Opening a Special Enrollment Period During COVID-19 Crisis 


LANSING, Mich. -- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, along with a coalition of governors from Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to ask that the Administration reconsider its decision and take swift action to allow for a special enrollment period of at least 30 days on the federal health care exchange. In the face of the worst public health crisis in modern history, it is imperative that every step be taken to expand access to affordable health care for those in need.  


“Too many of our constituents are uninsured or underinsured despite the steps we’ve taken at the state level,” the governors said. “As a result, far too many of our residents are choosing to forgo coronavirus testing and treatment out of fear of the potential costs to themselves and their families. It is essential that we remove every barrier as quickly as possible to ensure those in our states and across the country are able to access the treatment they need. One of the most effective ways this can be done is by opening up a federal special enrollment period to give everyone the chance to enroll in a health plan that offers the coverage they need with access to any qualifying subsidies.” 


On March 12, Governor Whitmer and Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) Director Anita Fox called on the Trump administration to allow for a special  enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act ( to allow more Americans, including Michiganders, to sign up for coverage and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Also on March 12, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters urged the Trump Administration to open a special enrollment period to allow people without health insurance or short-term plans to purchase a health care plan through the health insurance marketplaces. 


“During this crisis, we must do everything we can to ensure access to quality, affordable health care,” said Governor Whitmer. “That’s why we’re calling on the Trump Administration to do the right thing, reconsider its decision, and allow for a special enrollment period, and it’s also why we’re taking action in Michigan to expand opportunities for safe, quality care. We will continue to work with our partners across both state and federal government, as well as those in the private sector, to ensure Michiganders everywhere can access the care they need.” 


On April 10, DIFS announced that the state had received agreements from nearly all of the state’s health insurance companies to waive cost-sharing, including copays, deductibles, and coinsurance for COVID-19 testing and treatments. The Whitmer Administration and DIFS had worked with insurers to waive these costs. Consumers with these individual and group health plans will not be charged cost-sharing for coronavirus related medical treatment, such as primary care visits, laboratory testing, emergency room visits, ambulance services, and FDA-approved medications and vaccines for COVID-19 when they become available. 


After Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastated communities across the Southern United States, CMS announced a special enrollment period for those impacted by the storms. Special enrollment periods have also been used to respond to more personal situations such as house fires or domestic violence.   


“In a time of a fast-moving pandemic, taking every step possible to expand access to health insurance is not just a responsible choice for the health of the individual, but also for the health of our communities, our states, and the country,” the governors continued. “We as governors have done and will continue to do everything we can for our residents, and we hope that you will take all the necessary steps that only you can for them as well.” 


To view the full letter to HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma, click the link below: