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March 13, 2020

NPAF Urges State and Federal Governments to Help People #GetCovered for COVID-19

In light of the international coronavirus pandemic, National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) urged both state and federal government programs to use every available mechanism to quickly enroll people during the coronavirus pandemic.


“Even without a pandemic, a patient’s first defense against poor health and financial ruin is good insurance coverage. We hope every uninsured person knows that they have options, and we urge both state and federal governments to use every mechanism they can to help people both enroll and afford their coverage,” said Alan Balch, CEO of NPAF.


By declaring a national emergency, President Trump can now waive or modify certain Medicare, Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) requirements. For instance, President George W. Bush granted such waivers in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina so that states could rapidly enroll people after the storm.


“Getting every uninsured person who qualifies for Medicaid enrolled as quickly as possible is essential for addressing this crisis and slowing down the progression of the virus,” said Balch.


Residents in four states and the District of Columbia will still be able to enroll in a Marketplace plan, marking an important defense against the coronavirus pandemic. Uninsured residents of California, Massachusetts, Washington and the District of Columbia have open enrollment periods; in Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington, a special enrollment period has been put in place specifically to address the coronavirus pandemic.


The extended deadlines, with links to the enrollment sites, are as follows:

California: April 30

District of Columbia: 60 days after filing your taxes

Maryland: April 15

Washington State: April 8

Massachusetts: April 25


Anyone who needs help choosing a plan can consult the resources on the NPAF #GetCovered webpage.


“What’s true normally is especially true in a pandemic: people need coverage, and then they need to be able to use it,” said Balch. “We hope every state will open a special enrollment period. We also applaud the efforts of insurers who are waiving any cost-sharing associated with the coronavirus, and hope that costs won’t stop people from getting the care they need during this national emergency.”


Patient Advocate Foundation will remain open through the crisis, with case managers and other staff working at remote work stations with full access to their programmatic support. Patients in need off assistance should use, as well as the information found on state health department sites and designated help lines.