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Q&A with Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond on Healthcare.gov and American Rescue Plan

Wyoming News Now’s David Graf was joined via Zoom call by Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond from the White House to talk about Healthcare.gov and the American Rescue Plan.
Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond discussing HealthCare.gov and the...
Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond discussing HealthCare.gov and the American Rescue Plan in a Zoom interview from The White House on February 16, 2021(David Graf)
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 8:08 PM CST
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Americans are now able to sign up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov until May 15, 2021. The Biden administration is also working to pass the American Rescue Plan to help provide Americans with $1,400 stimulus checks and other benefits.

Wyoming News Now’s David Graf was joined via Zoom call by Director of the Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond from the White House to talk about Healthcare.gov and the American Rescue Plan.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

DG: I know you’re not a doctor, but can you tell me the importance of health care from the government’s point of view?

CR: Every American family understands the importance reliable, affordable, accessible healthcare. What we find too often is that families go bankrupt because of out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Right now, in the middle of a pandemic, we think it’s very important for families to have that security of health insurance, which is why we’re opening up a special enrollment period and extending it to May 15. We know that every American family should have healthcare.

DG: Can you tell me about HealthCare.gov?

CR: HealthCare.gov is our online portal that will allow people to go on and compare healthcare plans and sign up. We have almost 8,000 people ready to assist people as they try to enroll. We want to make sure families make the best decisions for them, but more importantly, we want them to have the security of knowing that they have coverage. It’s building upon the Affordable Care Act making sure that 100 million people, who benefit from not being charged more for pre-existing conditions and all of those things, that we extend that now to people who find themselves without insurance.

DG: What’s most exciting about being able to offer this to the American people?

CR: Because we’re focused on the American families, we know that there are almost 10 millions families that are out of work that were not out of work before the pandemic. We know that when you lose your employment, you lose benefits like health insurance, and we don’t want anyone out there exposed. We’re not going to leave anyone behind in our answer to this pandemic. Reopening the enrollment period will give every family a chance to get healthcare... We want to make sure we do all we can to help families.

DG: Can you give me a general overview of the American Rescue Plan?

CR: It’s important. It’s a $1.9 trillion plan to finally get ahead of and get our arms around COVID-19. Instead of continuing to just chase it from behind and pass legislation that’s too little too late, President Biden has decided he wants to take the bold action of meeting all the challenges of COVID-19 right now.

DG: Can you break that down for me?

CR: It provides $165 billion, so that we can make sure we get teachers and children back in the classroom, so that parents can go to work. It provides direct aid of $1,400 to families, so that we get to that $2,000 we committed to in December. It’s $20 billion for veterans and their healthcare to help get them through the pandemic. It’s another almost $360 million to get us more COVID-19 vaccines and tests. It is a robust plan, and it is an enormous plan because we’re meeting the enormous challenges of COVID-19. It is very vital in us getting to a point where we are past the pandemic, open the country back up, get kids in school and start to see some sort of normalcy.

DG: What should people in Wyoming be most excited about when it comes to the American Rescue Plan?

CR: That we finally have the framework and a plan to defeat COVID-19. I’m sure everyone has cabin fever, like me, and wants to get out of the house and see and hug family members. This plan will get us there. It will give us the foundation, in terms of funding, so we can get our arms around the pandemic, tackle the accompanying economic crisis, and keep moving forward. We can’t do that unless we have the money to create mobile vaccination sites, so we don’t leave anyone behind with the vaccine. So we can convince skeptical people the urgency and the prudence of receiving the vaccine. It is a comprehensive bill that will finally allow us to deal with all of the implications of COVID-19, so we can start to resume a normal life and share again with our loved ones.

DG: Anything else you’d like to share about Healthcare.gov or the American Rescue Plan?

CR: The American Rescue Plan was designed to help and meet the all of the challenges we know people are going through. That’s why we made sure to include the eviction and foreclosure moratorium. We have enhanced unemployment benefits because we know people are unemployed through no fault of their own. It’s important, and it’s important for people to support it and voice their support of the American Rescue Plan because it is our commitment to not leave anybody behind.

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