AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) joined a coalition of governors from Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin on Monday in writing to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to ask the administration to reconsider its decision and take swift action to allow for a special enrollment period of at least 30 days on the federal health care exchange amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the midst of one of the worst public health crises of our lifetimes, it is more important than ever to ensure that Maine people can see their doctor, receive the care they need, and stay healthy,” Gov. Mills said. “I join other governors nationwide in urging the Administration to ease access to critical health care by opening the federal health care exchange during this unprecedented time.”
On March 22, Gov. Mills wrote Maine’s congressional delegation asking them to urge the Trump administration to provide a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) through the health insurance marketplace, noting that “access to health insurance coverage not only provides peace of mind for individuals, but also protects public health by encouraging the use of necessary health services."
Governor Mills also declared an insurance emergency on March 12, 2020 to improve access to care and require private health insurance plans to cover costs related to coronavirus testing. The Superintendent of Insurance, Eric Cioppa, has also ordered that private, fully insured plans pay the full costs of COVID-19 testing and issued an order deferring premium deadlines to assist consumers in maintaining health coverage.
“Too many of our constituents are uninsured or underinsured despite the steps we’ve taken at the state level,” the governors wrote in their letter. “As a result, far too many of our residents are choosing to forgo coronavirus testing and treatment out of fear of the potential costs to themselves and their families. It is essential that we remove every barrier as quickly as possible to ensure those in our states and across the country are able to access the treatment they need. One of the most effective ways this can be done is by opening up a federal special enrollment period to give everyone the chance to enroll in a health plan that offers the coverage they need with access to any qualifying subsidies.”
“In a time of a fast-moving pandemic, taking every step possible to expand access to health insurance is not just a responsible choice for the health of the individual, but also for the health of our communities, our states, and the country,” the governors continued. “We as governors have done and will continue to do everything we can for our residents, and we hope that you will take all the necessary steps that only you can for them as well.”