To help protect seniors’ access to health care coverage, Rep. Greg Stanton called for an extension to the Federal Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment Period deadline. Stanton made the request yesterday in a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma. The current deadline to enroll is December 7. 

“As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and in-person resources remain severely limited, Arizonans looking to enroll in Medicare face multiple barriers that hinder their ability to enroll by the current deadline—potentially causing a delay in health care coverage when they need it most,” Stanton writes. “I strongly believe that the current Medicare Open Enrollment period should be extended to ensure that seniors, who remain one of the most vulnerable populations to this virus, have the coverage they need.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, all 42 of Arizona’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) community partners in Maricopa County, which normally provide in-person assistance and counseling to seniors during Open Enrollment, are closed and unable to provide face-to-face assistance. SHIP and its community partners play a key role to bridge the technology gap for first-time enrollees and seniors.

Additionally, seniors and those assisting them have
reported issues with the Medicare Plan Finder’s online tool produced by CMS, in which the website displayed confusing, incomplete or inaccurate information for 9 days. In response, some states even paused enrollment as CMS worked to resolve the issue. In his letter, Stanton calls for, at minimum, a 9-day extension to account for the error.

The letter is available here.