President Biden Signs Executive Order Strengthening Patient Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care

January 29, 2021

This blog was updated on March 25, 2021.


On Thursday, January 28, President Biden signed an executive order aimed at expanding health coverage options and reexamining policies that create barriers to patient access to care.

Special Enrollment Period

The executive order creates a three-month Special Enrollment Period (SEP) from February 15, 2021-May 15, 2021 for people to purchase individual health plans through, the federal exchange. This SEP will allow those who were unable to enroll in health coverage for 2021 to continue searching for quality and affordable care. This bold action will help millions of Americans obtain coverage, especially those who have been impacted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout.

On March 23, the Administration announced that it is extending the SEP by 3 months to August 15.

Strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act

In addition to expanding health coverage options, the executive order aims to strengthen Medicaid and protections under the Affordable Care Act for those with preexisting conditions, such as cancer.

Medicaid plays an important role in providing affordable health care coverage for cancer patients with low incomes. The significance of the Medicaid program for cancer patients has grown over the past year as Medicaid enrollment continues to increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences (Rudowitz et al. 2020).

Cancer patients with low incomes face significant barriers in qualifying for, accessing, and maintaining health care coverage for essential services. In recent years, many states have tried to implement work and volunteer requirements in their Medicaid program. These requirements are burdensome and reduce the ability of vulnerable people to obtain health coverage. The executive order directs federal agencies to reconsider these harmful programs, protecting patient access to care.

Cancer Policy Priorities

CSC’s transition document to the Biden-Harris Administration asked for consideration of a variety of policy priorities that would advance innovation, collaboration, and urgency in the fight against cancer, and protect and promote access to affordable and comprehensive health and cancer care. We are pleased to see that many of those priorities are addressed in the executive order, and we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration in a collaborative and transparent manner to put patients first.

Read the full transition document to the Biden-Harris Administration on our website.

For updates on the implementation of the executive order, join the Grassroots Network.




Rudowitz, R., Hinton, E., Guth, M., Stolyar, L. (2020). Medicaid Enrollment & Spending Growth: FY 2020 & 2021. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from