President Biden Issues Executive Order on Medicaid and Affordable Care Act

By Katherine Goelz  

On Thursday, January 28, President Biden signed an executive order, entitled “Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.”  This capped off another week of brisk action by the administration, with President Biden signing twelve additional orders. Since assuming the office, the president has signed thirty-nine executive actions, orders, memoranda.  

This particular order sets forth a policy on expanding Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to “make high-quality healthcare accessible and affordable for every American.” It highlights the unique situation that has been imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, calling upon the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “consider establishing” a special enrollment period. During this special enrollment period, uninsured and under-insured citizens can seek coverage through the ACA outside of the normal, open-enrollment period from November 1st to December 15th. The executive order notes that over 30 million Americans are currently uninsured. 

Additionally, the order directs the HHS Secretary, along with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor, to review all existing agency guidelines and policies. The intent is to review and resolve inconsistencies in policies or practices that: 

  • undermine protections for pre-existing conditions; 
  • reduce coverage under Medicaid or the ACA; 
  • undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or markets for health insurance; 
  • present barriers in attempting to access Medicaid or ACA coverage; and 
  • reduce the affordability of coverage or financial assistance for coverage. 

The Secretaries are tasked with considering whether to “suspend, revise, or rescind” any agency actions identified as inconsistent, and to determine if any additional agency actions should be implemented to better enforce the policy.  

Finally, the Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act rescinded two Trump-era executive orders that were designed to weaken the ACA while the Trump administration attempted to repeal the law. 

Despite this executive order, the state of Medicaid and the ACA remain fluid. No additional enrollment period has been announced at this time, but we will continue to monitor this situation and its impact on small business owners and their employees. 

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