CMS proposes significantly expanding ACA open enrollment period

Affordable Care Act
The Biden administration has proposed several updates to the regulations governing the Affordable Care Act exchanges. (Getty/zimmytws)

The Biden administration is proposing several updates to the regulations governing the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) exchanges in 2022.

Under the proposed rule, which would update or add new provisions to the finalized Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for the 2022 plan year, exchanges will have the option to offer new special enrollment periods for certain low-income customers who may benefit from enhanced premium tax credit options.

The ACA's tax credits were expanded as part of the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 response bill signed into law earlier this year.

The proposed rule would also expand the open enrollment period, beginning Nov. 1 and ending Jan. 15, 2022. Under the rule, the expansion would apply in future years.

RELATED: CMS extends special enrollment period qualifications in latest ACA rule

“With the ACA and American Rescue Plan, the Biden-Harris Administration is expanding access to affordable health insurance coverage for millions—for many, perhaps for the first time. The success of the special enrollment period opportunity clearly shows the demand for quality, affordable coverage,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement.

“These latest steps aim to better fund outreach efforts and eliminate barriers to coverage. We’re making high-quality, low-cost coverage more accessible than ever," Brooks-LaSure said.

The rule also proposes "modest" increases in user fees on the exchanges that would fund consumer outreach and education efforts. CMS said that while the fees will go up slightly compared to previous proposals, they will still be below current 2021 plan year rates.

The proposed rule also aims to reinstate duties for navigators. The program was scaled back significantly under the Trump administration, but the Biden White House is investing $80 million in building the program back up for the 2022 plan year.