HOUSTON - President Biden signed an executive order today to help many people who lost or can't afford health insurance during the pandemic.
His order re-opens enrollment for the Affordable Care Act so that more people can get low-cost health insurance. He's also asking agencies to re-examine any barriers to access to Medicaid.
"During the COVID pandemic, we've seen many more people who need health insurance, and need help to afford health insurance, because they've lost a job. Often when we lose a job, we lose our access to job-based insurance," said Stacey Pogue, Senior Policy Analyst with Every Texan
After four million Texans lost their jobs last year, there was a 15% increase in people signing up for Affordable Care Act health coverage, according to the Episcopal Health Foundation.
President Biden is now opening another enrollment period, February 15 through May 15, to allow more people to sign up. Nine out of ten Texans who have ACA coverage receive subsidies to help pay for it.
"Somebody by themselves, with income up to about $50,000 a year, can get help, or a family of three, for example, with income up to $85,000 a year," said Pogue.
"It's a website where you can type in your zip code and get matched with local enrollment assistance in your area," said Pogue.
President Biden is also asking agencies to re-examine barriers blocking access to Medicaid. Texas is one of fourteen states that has not expanded Medicaid to cover more people, leaving 21% of children without coverage, according to Lone Star Legal Aid.
LSLA's Connecting Texas Kids to Coverage Program helps low-income families apply for ACA coverage, Medicaid, or Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
"We determine their financial eligibility. We then help them with the application and submit the application, do all the communication with the healthcare agency," said Lindsay Eustace, Managing Attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid.
Eustace says getting healthcare coverage can improve a family's entire quality of life.
"We've noticed that even helping with health insurance and getting access to prescription drugs, it helps with providing more money for food, it helps with the children being able to do better in school," she explained.
Applicants can call the CTKCP program at (713) 652-0077 ext. 8103.
Texans can also apply for Medicaid, CHIP and other benefits at Your Texas Benefits.
President Biden also signed another executive order to have the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rescind a global gag rule that blocks U.S. funding to international non-profits that provide counseling for abortions.