President Joe Biden is set to sign orders related to health care Thursday, including a special enrollment period for a health insurance marketplace that could help those who have lost coverage during the coronavirus pandemic.
Employer-related coverage is the most common way Americans get health insurance, and with the pandemic putting more people out of work, the number of uninsured has grown.
Biden’s order will allow for a three-month special enrollment period for the insurance markets created under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” the program created in 2010 when Biden served as vice president.
Typically, the program is only open for signups for six weeks a year.
“As we continue to battle COVID-19, it is even more critical that Americans have meaningful access to affordable care,” the White House said in a statement ahead of the signing.
The order will also direct federal agencies to reexamine policies that undermine the program’s protections for people who have preexisting conditions, including effects from COVID-19.
More than 429,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters Wednesday her agency’s forecasts indicated the death toll will be between 479,000 and 514,000 by February 20, 2021.
Walensky spoke at the first of what the Biden administration has said will be briefings held three times a week to discuss its coronavirus response efforts.
White House COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is working to make more health professionals available to administer vaccinations.
Zients said the government would authorize retired doctors and nurses to administer vaccines and that professionals licensed in one state would be able to administer doses in other states.
Zients also said Congress must approve Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill to maintain momentum on vaccinations and more testing capacity. He said the administration is working to meet Biden’s goal of delivering at least 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days.