VOICE News Staff
Washington, D.C. – On Friday, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, finally announced the federal government will use funds provided by Congress in the series of recently authorized COVID-19 related stimulus bills, to cover the costs of coronavirus treatment for the nation’s uninsured. The government had previously only agreed to make COVID-19 testing free to everyone.
According Azar, $100 billion included in the recently authorized CARES Act will be used to reimburse healthcare providers for treating coronavirus-related illness diagnosed among the uninsured.
The policy states the providers will be reimbursed at Medicare rates and are restricted from billing patients any additional balance beyond Medicare’s authorized rates.
The president expressed his approval for the action stating, “This should alleviate any concern uninsured Americans may have about seeking the coronavirus treatment.”
This announcement came on the heels of the president’s refusal to re-open enrollment to the Affordable Care Act as an option to secure healthcare coverage for the millions of Americans—whose healthcare plans were tied to their employment—who now find themselves without jobs or healthcare coverage due to the impact of COVID-19.
The president was under increased criticism for failing to do so as re-opening enrollment would have allowed all uninsured Americans to buy coverage through the government marketplace.
Fortunately, in California, Governor Newsom re-opened enrollment in Covered California. In response to the impact of COVID-19 on workers in California the special enrollment period allows the uninsured who are eligible to enroll.
According to Covered California, “People who experience a qualifying life event can newly enroll in a health plan through Covered California even outside the open enrollment period.” In addition, those who already have a plan through Covered California who experience a qualifying life event can change their coverage or choose a new plan.
Covered California officials note individuals can apply online or call for assistance at (800) 300-1506. If you choose to call, you may experience longer than normal wait times due to the current circumstances.
“We want to get as many people covered as possible to ensure they have access to the health care they need,” said Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California on March 20, 2020, when the special enroll period was announced. “Having more people insured is the right thing to do, and this action builds on our efforts to leave no one behind in California.”
Medi-Cal enrollment continues to be year-round.