WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Oregon's congressional delegation pushed the Trump administration Monday to extend the open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace through the end of the year, in light of severe obstacles Oregonians faced due to COVID-19 and historic wildfires.
Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici all signed off on the letter.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had severe health and economic consequences for Oregon," the lawmakers wrote. "To date, nearly 60,000 Oregonians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, over 700 lost their lives, and 145,000 remain jobless.
"The crisis is also far from over: around 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 are being reported each day, and over 50,000 Oregonians have filed new unemployment claims since the beginning of September,” they wrote. “This makes ensuring access to health coverage more critical now than ever as families continue to grapple with the effects of the virus on their health and livelihoods.”
“At the same time, thousands of Oregonians have become displaced or homeless as a result of wildfires that raged across the state earlier this fall. Over 2,000 wildfires led to evacuation orders affecting 500,000 Oregonians, destroyed more than 4,000 homes, and led to 24,000 claims for public assistance,” they wrote.
The current scheduled close for open enrollment is Tuesday, Dec. 15. The Oregon members wrote to the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to push for approval of Governor Kate Brown’s request to extend the deadline to Dec. 31.
“Extending the Open Enrollment … is critical to protecting the health and wellbeing of Oregonians and all Americans. We urge you to take this step immediately to ensure people have access to the affordable and comprehensive health coverage during these unprecedented times,” the lawmakers concluded.
A copy of Monday’s letter is available here.