Several members of the Florida congressional delegation are asking federal officials for a special enrollment period to allow individuals to sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The call comes as the South Florida continues to be the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in Florida.
As of Tuesday morning, Miami-Dade had the second most positive cases of coronavirus, with 23. That trailed only Broward among Florida Counties. Health officials have recorded 39 cases inside Broward.
U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar. That letter was signed by dozens of their colleagues in the U.S. House as well.
“As outbreaks emerge and community spread continues in the United States, our most vulnerable neighbors are those who lack comprehensive health coverage,” the letter reads.
“Providing an opportunity for more Americans to seek health coverage is an important step in assuring public health during this crisis. Without effective action, we are concerned that Americans will not be adequately protected against current and future coronavirus outbreaks. We look forward to your response.”
The 2020 enrollment period closed on Dec. 15, 2019. Mucarsel-Powell added a statement of her own Tuesday morning which promoted the push for an additional signup period.
“As this pandemic grows, it is critical that we provide individuals and families with the opportunity to get covered through a Special ACA Enrollment Period” Mucarsel-Powell said.
“The many Floridians without health insurance coverage in our district are unlikely to seek treatment for COVID-19, putting not just themselves at risk, but everyone in our community. This commonsense action could be a game changer, as we work to contain this virus.”
The death rate for those who test positive for the virus has recently sat above 3%. However, those calculations do not include individuals who may have contracted the virus, but are asymptomatic and thus survive without incident. Including those individuals would lower the death rate, but it’s unclear how many such individuals there are worldwide.
Most who do show symptoms develop a fever or cough and may have trouble breathing, though they do recover. But older individuals and those with underlying health risks are susceptible to developing more severe symptoms.