Arguing that the Trump administration isn’t doing enough to promote the upcoming ACA open enrollment period, some former health officials, celebrities and a former insurance company CEO are taking matters into their own hands.
They’ve launched a group called Get America Covered, which aims to help people looking to enroll in health coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges and those who are helping others sign up. The effort is necessary, according to group co-founder Lori Lodes, given the shortened open enrollment period, canceled advertising and scaled-back funding for enrollment guides this year.
“We can’t fix that but we can’t sit on the sidelines either,” she wrote in a post on Medium. “So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure people have the facts about the quality, affordable healthcare coverage that’s available at Healthcare.gov.”
As of press time, the Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment on the new initiative.
Lodes and Joshua Peck, both of whom oversaw open enrollment outreach and public education during the Obama administration, are spearheading the effort. The group’s national co-chairs include news commentator Van Jones, actors Alyssa Milano and Bradley Whitford, former Molina Healthcare CEO J. Mario Molina, and former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Andy Slavitt.
The group says the main goal is to get the word out about the Dec. 15 sign-up deadline and the fact that many people can find a plan for $50-$100 per month with financial assistance. The Get America Covered website also offers a list of key facts and resources for consumers, and promises to deliver “useful guides and resources” in the coming weeks for those helping individuals get covered.
“We’re taking everything we learned about how to reach people with the information they need about deadlines and financial help and are getting to work helping more people enroll,” Peck said.
Indeed, the Obama administration worked with a slew of community organizations and other groups in its past ACA outreach efforts, but many of those groups now say they’ve heard nothing from federal health officials.
Healthcare.gov will also be shut down for maintenance on most Sundays during the sign-up period—a move that the former HHS chief information officer contends has no technical justification. CMS, however, has said the system downtime is “planned for the lowest-traffic time periods on Healthcare.gov.”