Washington, D.C. — Following the Biden administration’s announcement last week that it will open a special enrollment period to allow Americans affected by the pandemic to enroll in health insurance, the City of Chicago voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit challenging the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) refusal to open one under the Trump administration.
On behalf of the City of Chicago, Democracy Forward filed suit against the Trump administration last June for unlawfully refusing to open a special enrollment period.
Upon resolving the lawsuit, Democracy Forward and the City of Chicago’s Department of Law issued the following statement:
“The Trump administration’s callous refusal to open a special enrollment period was an unlawful and inexcusable impediment for tens of thousands of Chicagoans — and millions of Americans — who needed access to high-quality, affordable health insurance amid this once-in-a-century pandemic. We’re proud of our fight to protect the Affordable Care Act from the Trump administration’s unlawful sabotage, and we commend the Biden administration for following the law and moving swiftly to open a COVID-19 special enrollment period.”
The lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s refusal to open a special enrollment period was filed on June 15 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Fourteen states and the U.S. House of Representatives filed briefs in support of the suit.
The Trump administration’s failure to reopen enrollment denied tens of thousands of Chicagoans and millions of Americans the opportunity to enroll in quality and affordable health insurance as they worried about contracting the virus and weathering the economic crisis it has caused. The Trump administration’s decision also forced municipalities like Chicago to bear the financial and human costs of providing uncompensated care to their uninsured residents.
In response to the lawsuit, the Trump administration argued that “a COVID-19 SEP is unwarranted” even though the government’s own records show that health insurers, governors, and experts adamantly disagreed. As the House of Representatives explained at the time in its amicus filing: the refusal to reopen enrollment was “just another example of the myriad ways” the Trump administration “has tried to make it more difficult for individuals who need health insurance to access it through the Exchanges, even though Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to accomplish the opposite goal.”
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.