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Greek CommunitySarbanes, Pallone Lead All Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats in Urging HHS...

Sarbanes, Pallone Lead All Energy & Commerce Committee Democrats in Urging HHS to Expand Voter Registration Opportunities

Hellenic News of America
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (MD-03) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) led all Democratic Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in sending a letter urging Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to maximize the agency’s implementation of Executive Order 14019, Promoting Access to Voting, by leveraging key opportunities to provide individuals with voter registration opportunities on HealthCare.gov.

On March 7, 2021, President Biden directed federal agencies to expand opportunities to provide the individuals they serve with voter registration resources. Following this, HHS and its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) formally committed to providing voter registration services and assistance to users of HealthCare.gov. Although HHS and CMS have included voter registration information on certain resource pages, this year’s historic open enrollment season underscores the impact the agency could have by taking additional actions to ensure all individuals submitting eligibility determinations on HealthCare.gov or receiving enrollment assistance from navigators are offered the opportunity to register to vote.

“As states across the nation enact voter suppression laws, we must do everything in our power to provide every eligible individual the opportunity to register to vote – and that means meeting Americans where they are,” said Congressman Sarbanes, Task Force on Strengthening Democracy Co-Chair. “This year’s historic enrollment season demonstrated that HHS has a tremendous opportunity to use its reach to provide individuals of all backgrounds the tools to make their voice heard by including voter resources within its health plan enrollment process. Those of us who are privileged to serve on the Energy & Commerce Committee deeply understand that a healthier democracy will lead to a healthier, more equitable society. I am hopeful that the Department will use this moment to maximize the impact of President Biden’s Executive Order so that more Americans have the resources to participate in our democracy.”

“I strongly support the Biden Administration’s ongoing work to increase access to voter registration services,” Ranking Member Pallone said. “There is a direct relationship between the health of a democracy and its people. I’m grateful to Congressman Sarbanes for helping to lead the way to ensure Americans have access to quality, affordable health care as well the resources and support they need to register to vote.”

Nearly 10 million of the total 16.3 million Americans enrolled in marketplace plans during the 2023 open enrollment period submitted an application for health insurance or made changes to their coverage options using the federal HealthCare.gov platform. This number has been increasing annually and can be expected to rise again in final data given this year’s historic enrollment of 21.3 million Americans, including those who enrolled in both the federal and stated-based marketplaces during the 2024 open enrollment period.

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By including voter resources as part of its enrollment process, HHS has a unique opportunity to reach a large share of low- to moderate-income individuals, including many who live in states that have imposed barriers to efficient voter registration. Since data show the positive correlation between the health of a democracy and the health of its population, strong execution of HHS’s commitment to the Executive Order will also support and further the Department’s efforts to forge a healthier, more equitable and inclusive America.

Specifically, the letter requests HHS, working through CMS, take the following actions:

Include a voter registration question directly within the application workflows on HealthCare.gov so that every user is asked if they would like to register to vote before they click “submit” for an eligibility determination;

Provide those individuals who respond yes to the above question with access to a voter registration application immediately after they submit their information for a determination of benefits eligibility on HealthCare.gov, either by linking to Vote.gov or through a similar means; and
Offer basic voter registration assistance to customers through in-person Navigators and Assisters as well as customer service representatives reachable by phone.

The full letter with signatures can be found here.

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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