Covered California High Enrollment Shows Need For the ACA, Even as it is Endangered By Court Case and Supreme Court Pick

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Yvonne Vasquez, Communications Associate, Health Access California,, 916-407-7078 (cell)
Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California,, 916-870-4782 (cell)
  • Covered California announced a record high enrollment of 1.53 million, with nearly 300,000 signed up during Covered California’s COVID-19 special-enrollment period—over twice the number as signed up in the same time period last year.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of of the Affordable Care Act as it is providing access to coverage to millions of Americans, and patient protections for millions more, including those with pre-existing conditions—all more important than ever, even as the President races to seat a Justice to strike down the law from a court case he backs that will be heard the week after the election.
  • Congress will hear testimony from Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee on lessons learned from the pandemic and how to improve the Affordable Care Act.
SACRAMENTO— Today, Covered California released a new report showed a new record high in enrollment, including nearly 300,000 new enrollments coming in since the COVID-19 emergency, twice as many as the same period in 2019. This demand shows that Californians need coverage and the Affordable Care Act now more than ever, even as it is newly threatened by a pending court care set to be heard by the Supreme Court the week after the election, with a potentially new appointment likely to be hostile to the ACA and its coverage expansions and patient protections.
“Due to this pandemic, Californians are facing an economic emergency that has led to lost jobs, income, and health coverage. The COVID-19 crisis is highlighting the importance of the ACA as a safety-net for all of us, as Covered California has seen a major increase in enrollment. Many Californians and Americans are in need of coverage more than ever, yet the President is instead racing to install a Supreme Court Justice that will rule on a court case he backs to strike down the ACA and its coverage options and patient protections,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “A total of 289,460 new individuals that have signed up for health care coverage since COVID19 hit, twice the enrollment from the same time last year. As more workers face furloughs turning into terminations, Californians will need more support for the ACA and its coverage options, not the attacks through court cases and rushed Supreme Court picks. This COVID19 pandemic shows us the need to protect public health care, and now more than ever we must continue to protect the Affordable Care Act and build on it.
California policymakers have taken several steps to stop the sabotage of the ACA by the federal government, but a court ruling to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act would be a catastrophe here and everywhere. California implemented and improved the ACA, and so we have the most to lose if the federal framework and funding is undone,” said Wright.
California’s work to build on the ACA, championed by health consumer advocates, has led to an individual market in California has has two consecutive years of record-low rate changes in the 2020 coverage year. Covered California estimates that individual market health care premiums are estimated to be about 20 percent lower than what they would have been if the state’s enrollment looked more like that of the federally facilitated marketplace, which has enrolled fewer consumers who also have a less-healthy risk profile.
Tomorrow’s Congressional hearing, titled “Health Care Lifeline: The Affordable Care Act and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” will include Covered California director Peter Lee, talking about ways, based on the California experience, the federal government could further improve access to coverage in the middle of this pandemic.