WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 01: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks from the press briefing room with … [+]
Topline: During Wednesday’s White House briefing, President Trump praised Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to dodge a question on the administration’s decision not to reopen health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic before saying, “It’s something we’re looking at.”
- “I think that’s one of the greatest answers I’ve ever heard because Mike was able to speak for five minutes and not even touch your question,” Trump said. “I said that’s what you call a great professional.”
- Tuesday night, Politico reported that the Trump administration decided against reopening enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, sometimes known as Obamacare, for uninsured Americans facing steep costs for coronavirus-related bills. Instead, said the report, the administration was opting to explore “other options.”
- Some of the millions of workers that filed for unemployment last month may be able to apply for the ACA if they lose employment-based coverage as it’s a “qualifying life event.” Others who didn’t lose insurance or never had it in the first place—many of the retail and service industry workers being laid off—are not currently able to apply to the ACA.
- Pence, in answer to whether middle-class Americans who hadn’t been able to enroll for health insurance with the qualifying period for the ACA ending December 15, said, “we have Medicaid for underprivileged Americans…I think what we’re seeing health insurance companies do today is really inspiring.”
- Taking over the question, Trump said if there is another stimulus bill, “we’ll look at it” without committing to any concrete plan before implying Democrats haven’t talked about health insurance, saying “Nobody’s talked about it at all…I don’t think the other group will get to it, they haven’t even spoken about it.”
- The federal government oversees health insurance in over two-thirds of the country’s states.
Key background: Throughout the Trump presidency, the GOP has sought to strip or repeal the ACA, with Trump supporting an open lawsuit from a number of Republican states that seeks to label the law unconstitutional. It is now being handled by the Supreme Court. Yesterday, during an extended briefing, the taskforce shared that it was predicting between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S. even with full mitigation measures. The U.S. currently leads all other countries in confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 213,372, with 4,757 confirmed deaths.
Tangent: In a reverse of focus for the daily White House briefings during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, President Trump instead spent the first half of April 1’s briefing announcing enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western hemisphere. Trump shared that the military is deploying additional capabilities for operations occurring in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea targeting drug cartels that intelligence officials say are taking advantage of the outbreak. Members of the coronavirus taskforce like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx were absent to begin the briefing with the president instead flanked by attorney general William Barr and secretary of defense Mark Esper, along with other security officials.
Further Reading: National Stockpile Of Emergency Equipment Nearly Gone, Trump Says