PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey, in an open letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday, asked for the opening of a special health insurance enrollment period for Arizonans impacted financially by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The request to reopen the most fiercely-debated component of Obamacare comes as Arizona’s confirmed cases of the virus surpass 400, with at least 6 deaths. 

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In the letter, Governor Ducey says the approval of a special enrollment period would help Arizonans secure their health care without wasting valuable time.

“At this time when health insurance is of critical importance and so many people are experiencing a loss of employment,” Ducey says, “opening a special enrollment period will cut unnecessary red tape and lift a paperwork burden off individuals who are already facing challenges from a sudden and significant change in circumstances.”

Additionally, the governor made two other moves Wednesday to further Arizonans’ access to health care:

  • An executive order requiring health providers to expand their telemedicine coverage for services normally restricted to in-person visits
  • Requesting the federal government to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The request for a special open enrollment period comes as somewhat of a surprise, as Governor Ducey famously fought against the open enrollment policy associated with the original Obamacare legislation.

Eleven other states which operate state-based insurance marketplaces similar to Arizona have been granted similar special enrollment periods. Only two of those states, Maryland and Massachusetts, have Republican governors.

Read the governor’s letter in full here.

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