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Today President Biden signed a series of health-related executive orders focused on expanding access to affordable coverage. The executive orders create an ACA Marketplace Special Enrollment Period from February 15 to May 15 and encourage federal agencies to revisit policies and waivers that reduce affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents. This includes harmful waivers Tennessee state officials have submitted like Medicaid work reporting requirements and the Medicaid block grant. By reopening and reinvesting in the ACA Marketplaces and strengthening Medicaid, the Biden Administration has reasserted the central purpose of these foundational health programs, which is to provide access to affordable health coverage for those who need it most.
In response to these executive orders, Tennessee Justice Center’s Executive Director Michele Johnson said the following:
“Today’s news is a huge relief to the families we serve. We are so grateful that President Biden is reversing barriers to coverage and expanding desperately needed access to health coverage. In a year of unprecedented loss due to COVID-19 and soaring unemployment, strengthening the health care safety net has never been more critical. Opening the ACA Marketplace is an immediate opportunity for thousands of Tennesseans who are recently uninsured to find affordable coverage. The orders also establish an avenue for Tennessee’s damaging block grant waiver and pending work reporting requirements waiver to be reassessed by our federal officials.
We urge CMS to reconsider Tennessee’s dangerous move to upend the way our state’s Medicaid program is funded. The block grant plan incentivizes cuts to an already lean Medicaid program and provides no commitment to cover any of the over 300,000 Tennesseans who lack health insurance during a global health crisis.”