Biden to reopen online health insurance marketplaces

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about administration plans to strengthen American manufacturing during a brief appearance in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 25, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will reopen the nation’s online health insurance marketplace for people who cannot obtain coverage through their employers, the White House said on Thursday.

Biden, who took office last week, will restore access to with an executive order on Thursday afternoon, the latest in a blizzard of moves by the Democratic president to quickly reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

The order will allow people to sign up for insurance through the government exchange from Feb. 15 to May 15, the White House said in a policy fact sheet. The program is normally accessible for just six weeks a year.

The action was expected. Biden has vowed to shore up the and other programs created under former President Barack Obama’s sweeping 2010 Affordable Care Act.

He has argued that the changes are more urgent because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

Republicans have long opposed the healthcare restructuring law, criticizing the cost and quality of care as well as extensive government involvement in healthcare markets.

Biden also plans to direct federal agencies to “re-examine” Trump-era policies like work requirements that made it more difficult for people to qualify for Medicaid, the government-run health insurance program for the poor.

In another action, Biden will rescind the “Mexico City Policy” that bans U.S. funding for international non-profit organizations that provide abortion counseling.

Biden is set to sign the executive actions around 1:30 p.m. ET (1830 GMT).

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