Insurance commissioners call on President-Elect Biden to strengthen Affordable Care Act

DELAWARE – Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro and other commissioners nationwide sent a letter to President-Elect Joe Biden. In the letter, they urged him to take action to strengthen the Affordable Care Act.

Of the twelve recommendations, six are meant for immediate action. The immediate recommendations include ensuring immediate access to the federal marketplace, through a special enrollment period, and providing immediate relief from Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidy clawbacks created by COVID-19 uncertainty. The commissioner also recommended providing clarity on COVID-19 testing coverage requirements, especially in regard to tests that are ordered as part of state-based contact tracing efforts.

Plus, they asked President-Elect Biden to partner with states in actively focusing on programs and practices that address the needs of historically marginalized communities. They also called on him to address problematic elements of the recently proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) for Plan Year 2022. Lastly, the commissioners asked to allow flexibility for states aiming to pursue progressive policy aims by empowering them to apply for ACA innovation waivers beyond reinsurance.

Commissioner Navarro says the special enrollment period could be especially helpful amid the pandemic, as many people are facing lay offs. “We’re allowed to do things during a special enrollment period, but what we can do now and what the federal government can do is allow special enrollments now. We know people are struggling. More and more folks are being laid off,” said Commissioner Navarro.

Commissioner Navarro says he’s confident President-Elect Biden will make these changes once he enters office. He says that’s because many of the recommendations would strengthen existing parts of the ACA.

The six recommendations for future action include reversing policies, such as the weakening of non-discrimination protections and the public charge rule, that undermine the ACA and deny health care coverage to many people. Plus, the commissioners are asking President-Elect Biden to encourage both people and small businesses to enroll in ACA programs, and stop encouraging enrollment in insurance plans that do not provide the ACA’s most critical consumer protections.

Another long term recommendation is improving income counting rules to allow consumers greater flexibility. The letter also called for extending premium tax credits to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients so that legally present noncitizens have access to health care coverage, and modernizing Department of Labor oversight of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act to ensure all health insurance coverage is held to similar standards. Lastly, the commissioners asked President-Elect Biden to consider a national reinsurance program to stabilize health insurance markets and improve affordability of health insurance coverage.

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