Committee Vote TODAY on AB 156 (Wood) to Maintain California’s 3-Month ACA Open Enrollment—Despite Trump Push To Cut It In Half

Today, the Senate Health Committee will hear AB 156 by Assemblymember Wood, a new bill that ensures California consumers have a reasonable length of time to sign up for health care coverage, despite Trump Administration attempts to cut open enrollment in half.
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For immediate release: Tuesday, September 5, 2017

For more information, contact:
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn-Gish, communications director, Health Access California, 916-532-2128 (cell)

SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE TO VOTE ON AB 156 (WOOD) TO KEEP CALIFORNIA’S 3-MONTH ACA OPEN ENROLLMENT, DESPITE TRUMP DECREE

Trump Administration Continues to Sabotage Individual Market, In Part by Seeking to Shorten Length of Federal Annual Open Enrollment by One Half.

  • April Federal Government Rule Changed Open Enrollment from 90 Days to 45 Days, and Ends Enrollment In the Middle of Holidays.
  • AB 156 (Wood) Preserves 90 Day Open Enrollment for Californians, and Ensures Deadline Goes Past Holidays into January for Nearly 2.5 Million in Individual Market
  • Maintaining Open Enrollment Periods to Which Consumers are Accustomed is Critical to Success of Covered California and Implementation of ACA

SACRAMENTO, CA: Today, the Senate Health Committee will hear AB 156 by Assemblymember Wood, a new bill that ensures California consumers have a reasonable length of time to sign up for health care coverage, despite Trump Administration attempts to cut open enrollment in half.

In April 2017, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) required all health insurance exchanges to adopt a shorter annual open enrollment period that starts on November 1 and ends December 15, which is 45 days instead of the current 90-day period. This would also mean that consumers would need to make important health decisions during the holiday season.

Since its inception, Covered California has had a 90-day (3 month) open enrollment period. Despite the new federal regulation, states that run their own exchanges can supplement the annual open enrollment period beyond federal requirements. AB 156 will change California law to comply with the new federal rule, while also adding additional time before and after in order to maintain the 3-month open enrollment period and give consumers more time to shop after the holidays.

“California consumers should not be forced to change the way they shop for their care due to the whims of a federal administration bent on upending the individual market,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition and the sponsor of AB 156. “Choosing the right health care coverage has financial and health impacts for families. Jamming these important and complicated decisions into a shorter period and during an already cash-strapped and stressful time of year makes it more difficult for people to choose the right plan, and may even discourage people for buying coverage. AB 156 is another way we can help continue the success of the Affordable Care in California despite federal sabotage attempts.”

Maintaining a 3-month annual open enrollment period also provides more time for Covered California to reach out to younger and healthier consumers, creating a better risk mix that keeps overall premiums down. Many people, particularly younger and healthier consumers, wait until the last minute to sign-up for coverage. Nearly 50,000 consumers signed up for health care coverage through Covered California in the last two days before the January 31, 2016 deadline.

Under AB 156, California’s open enrollment would run from October 15 through January 15, starting in the 2019 plan year. The open enrollment period will remain unchanged for the 2018 open enrollment period, starting November 1, 2017 and going to January 30, 2018.

“This bill is another example of how California has the wherewithal and the will to continue the progress under the Affordable Care Act, if we have its framework and financing in place. Covered California has already announced a workaround to the federal government’s defunding of cost-sharing reductions in order to prevent people from feeling the resulting premium increases, and has committed more marketing dollars to make up for the lost federal push,” continued Wright. Keeping a 12-week open enrollment period is yet another way California can use our own policies to ensure we hold harmless our consumers from the troubling decisions of the Trump Administration.

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