While the Affordable Care Act remains popular and beneficial for many Americans, the current enrollment period ended at midnight on Friday without the Trump administration offering to extend the deadline to accommodate late–comers.
Previously, the administration of President Barack Obama had consistently extended that deadline, The Hill reported, and Democrats in Congress had sought to do the same, until Jan. 31. That effort failed.
Instead, officials recommended that people contact HealthCare.gov’s call center at 1–800-318-2596 and leave a message. “A representative will call you back after tonight and make sure you get coverage starting Jan 1,” the agency tweeted.
A flurry of attacks by the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers against Obamacare included cutting total enrollment time in half. While some enrollment figures are encouraging—first–time customers totaled 36% of those hurrying to meet the deadline—the number of people enrolled under Trump could drop by 1 to 2 million, according to an expert cited by the Associated Press.
According to the AP, over 12 million people signed up at the end of the Obama administration’s enrollment period.
“After a repeal failed in Congress, Trump stopped payments to reimburse insurers for subsidizing copayments and deductibles, thereby boosting premiums. His administration also cut the federal open enrollment season in half, slashed the ad budget and pulled back money for counselors who help people sign up,” the AP noted.
Also troubling is the inclusion in the GOP tax bill, which was finalized on Friday, of a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate. Analysts say this will uproot markets and drive up premiums. According to the Congressional Budget Office, repealing the individual mandate could lead to 13 million people being uninsured by 2027.
“Our team worked day-and-night to help consumers have a seamless open enrollment experience,” a spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the Affordable Care Act, told The Hill. “Despite the increase in volume, both HealthCare.gov and call center operated optimally and consumers were able to easily access enrollment tools to compare plans and prices.”