June 17, 2020

Duckworth, Durbin Introduce Bill to Give Americans the Freedom to Purchase Health Insurance During COVID-19 Pandemic


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill to provide uninsured Americans in Illinois and throughout the country the freedom to purchase health insurance coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace exchange by establishing a one-time special enrollment period (SEP) beginning on July 1, 2020 and ending on October 1, 2020. This one-time three-month SEP would also streamline the process for newly unemployed Americans to bypass the bureaucratic hurdles for insurance enrollment currently in place for individuals who experience a qualifying life event, such as losing employer-sponsored coverage. The COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period Act would allow these individuals to purchase quality healthcare coverage during the COVID-19 national public health emergency.

“The deadly COVID-19 pandemic does not discriminate between individuals who have health insurance coverage and those who don’t,” Duckworth said. “During this public health emergency, it’s in every American’s interest that we ensure those who need care are able to access it—and afford it. By creating a new COVID-19 special enrollment period, this legislation will help ensure anyone who wants insurance is able to purchase it.”

“Affordable, quality health insurance for every American has never been more important than during this unprecedented public health crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a wave of uncertainty for millions of uninsured Americans, leaving them worried about their ability to afford treatment for their families,” said Durbin. “We must protect ourselves, our families, and our communities from the spread of this virus, which starts by ensuring that everyone who needs insurance has access to it.  It’s vital that the ACA marketplace reopen under a special enrollment period and offer the coverage necessary to care for Americans during this crisis.”

The Trump Administration denied the State of Illinois request submitted in March 2020 for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to allow Illinois residents a three-month special enrollment period. On June 15, the City of Chicago filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration over this decision.