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“It’s a game of whack-a-mole; we’re trying to make the law work in California, but every time we turn around there’s another attack by the federal government,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a statewide health consumer advocacy group.
Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee, who was in Los Angeles Monday to promote open enrollment, also said time is of the essence. “The clock is ticking for consumers who need quality health care coverage because this year’s deadline is earlier than it has been in the past.”
The deadline is Tuesday for consumers to get coverage for this year starting Feb. 1.
Consumers have until Jan. 15 to sign up for coverage for this year under Covered California. “We want to make sure they know that this year’s deadline is earlier than it has been in the past, and they must take action in the next week in order to get the peace of mind and protection they deserve in 2019,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled last month that the health law is unconstitutional without the individual mandate penalty. Attorneys general from more than a dozen Democratic states are leading the charge to defend the Affordable Care Act at the next phase in court. Meanwhile, the government reports that about 8.4 million Americans signed up for 2019 coverage.
Health law sign ups for 2019 dipped only slightly even though Congress zeroed out the penalty for not having insurance. The numbers suggest that people are participating in the ACA exchanges because they value the coverage not because they’re worried about paying fines, experts say. Meanwhile, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has asked a judge to block exemptions to the health law’s contraception mandate.
The deadline to sign up to get coverage starting Jan. 1 is now this Friday for people in California. Consumers will also be able to enroll for coverage starting Feb. 1 up until Jan. 15.
“We have seen tens of thousands of people flood into Covered California over the past week, and we want to make sure everyone can start the new year off right by being covered,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. Open enrollment in Covered California runs through Jan. 15, 2019, but anyone signing up between Dec. 22 and Jan. 15 wouldn’t see their coverage start until Feb. 1.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, ruling on a suit brought by opponents of the Affordable Care Act, says that the law was invalidated when Congress dropped the tax penalty for not having coverage. Advocates for the law say they will appeal the decision.
Studies have found that if the state does not step in, up to a million Californians could go without health care because the federal individual mandate has been zeroed out. But lawmakers are hesitant to enact a state-level mandate without also making health insurance cheaper for residents.