WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The White House says it will not reopen enrollment for the Affordable Care Act.
The decision is sparking backlash from Democrats and health care advocates who say that choice will only make the pandemic worse.
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-IL, says she is outraged by the decision, saying it leaves millions of Americans to face the COVID-19 pandemic without insurance.
“This is a public health crisis,” Bustos said. “We don’t want anyone sick fearing getting help. It’s just such a shortsighted mandate.”
Joshua Peck, co-founder of the health care advocacy group Get America Covered, says the decision will accelerate the spread of the new coronavirus.
“This is a decision that affects not only the uninsured but affects everyone,” Peck said. “A lack of coverage will delay detection and treatment.”
He says many of the essential workers keeping the country running don’t have coverage.
“There is heavy overlap between them and the people likely to be uninsured,” he said.
The White House says it’s already taken actions to help, like allowing states to expand Medicaid coverage. But President Donald Trump also agreed more steps might be needed.
However, U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kansas, says people who didn’t enroll last year already showed they didn’t want Obamacare.
“Large numbers have chosen to go that route and they’ve figured out a plan,” he said.
Estes also says congress made coronavirus testing free for all Americans, which will help slow the spread.
Bustos says Democrats will continue to call on Trump to open insurance markets.
“There’s more work to do,” she said.