November 10, 2017
BANGOR, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today announced that he sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to request an extension of the 2018 Affordable Care Act open enrollment period for Maine. The request comes following a severe storm caused more than 400,000 people in Maine to lose power as the shortened open enrollment period began.
“As you may know, a severe storm with hurricane-force winds recently hit Maine causing historic, widespread power outages,” Senator King wrote in the letter. “Without access to electricity and or communications it is nearly impossible to effectively shop for health insurance. Clearly, for those trying to enroll in healthcare, the timing of this event is dire. Because of the storm damage many Maine residents will lose nearly 1/3 of the Open Enrollment period… I respectfully ask that you consider extending the Open Enrollment period for the State of Maine to provide those recovering from the storm additional time to shop for health insurance coverage.”
Senator King announced the letter at Penobscot Community Health Care, where he continued his open enrollment information tour to provide information to Maine citizens about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment period. Open enrollment began on November 1st and currently stands to end on December 15th. The press conference featured health care professionals and advocates, application assisters, and health care providers.
In recent months, the Administration has launched numerous efforts to undermine open enrollment including reducing the length of open enrollment from 12 weeks to 6 weeks, announcing a 12-hour shutdown of the ACA website over weekends, and drastically cutting funding for advertising and insurance navigator programs. Despite these changes, the Affordable Care Act’s benefits and assistance with enrollment remain available for those who sign up within the shortened time period.
Senator King has been outspoken in his desire to improve the Affordable Care Act to protect coverage for the millions who rely on it for affordable healthcare, and is a cosponsor of the bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to stabilize the individual health insurance marketplace.
Today’s event marks the latest iteration of Senator King’s Open Enrollment information tour. In October, Senator King joined health care professionals and advocates at the Opportunity Alliance in South Portland to encourage Maine people to learn more about their health care options and get coverage, and in earlier this week he spoke about the importance of insurance at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. He also hosted a Facebook live on the topic last night, where he shared a personal story about how insurance saved his life more than 40 years ago.
For more information Maine people can reach out to Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care, call 1-800-965-7476, and/or visit healthcare.gov. The full text of the Senator’s letter can be found here.