HHS denies Democrats' request to create special open enrollment for pregnant women

The Department of Health and Human Services has denied a request from Democrats to create an open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act for women when they find out they are pregnant, The Hill reported. Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell said HHS does not have "the legal authority to establish pregnancy as an exceptional circumstance." Qualifying low- and moderate-income women can enroll in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) at any time, Burwell said.

Lawmakers sought a special open enrollment period to address the potential gap in coverage that could leave women without maternity care. "Good maternity care is essential for the well-being of children, and studies show that maternal mortality rates are three to four times higher for women who do not receive prenatal care," said the letter, sent by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) with 36 signatures. Murray, after hearing the decision, said she will continue seeking ways to get pregnant women affordable coverage. Article