Tags: Trump Administration | health | care | funding | cut | trump | obamacare

Trump Administration Cuts Funding for Obamacare Sign-Ups

Thursday, 31 August 2017 04:51 PM

he Trump administration said it will slash spending on encouraging people to sign up for Obamacare, making good on the president’s threat to let the law wither after Republicans failed to repeal it earlier this year.

Arguing that the promotional spending had been ineffective, the Health and Human Services Department will cut the sign-up ad budget to $10 million for 2018 coverage. That’s down from $100 million for this year, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a statement.

“Judging effectiveness by the amount of money spent and not the results achieved is irresponsible and unhelpful to the American people,” said Caitlin Oakley, an HHS spokeswoman.

The administration will also reduce payments to groups that help people choose among their health insurance options under the law. Last year, those “navigators” got $62.5 million. Spending on them will be cut by 39 percent for the coming enrollment period, according to the agency, which oversees much of the law. How much the groups get will depend on their past effectiveness in meeting sign-up goals.

With the move, President Donald Trump’s administration is following through on his threats to revoke support from the law. Decreased promotion of the law could further undermine its insurance markets, which had been struggling as insurers questioned the administration’s commitment to the program.

“SABOTAGE,” tweeted Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, minutes after the announcement.

State Efforts

At the same time, states who run their own enrollment markets have already been spending their own money on promotion. California, for example, has proposed spending more than $100 million on getting people to sign up for next year.

Trump has called the law a failure, and has said the threat of the law’s demise could force Democrats to negotiate a replacement. Earlier this year, Republicans failed to repeal much of the law and replace it with their own, more limited program.

“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” Trump tweeted on July 18, about 10 days before the GOP repeal bill was scrapped after losing a key vote in the Senate.

The $10 million will go to “digital media, email, and text messages” the health agency said, since those methods “have proven the most effective in reaching existing and new enrollees.”

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said the administration was “pulling the rug out” from Americans with the move.

“The Trump Administration should be doing everything in its power to improve Americans’ access to health care, not cutting efforts that help Americans get coverage,” Wyden said in a statement.

Sign-Ups Approaching

On Wednesday, a senior administration official indicated that Trump’s team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees many of the federal government’s Obamacare efforts, would be reevaluating much of what the agency was doing surrounding outreach. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials weren’t authorized to discuss the matter on the record.

The administration planned to follow the law and implement the programs its required to, the person said. The official said the administration was still working through how or whether to support the law and make it work better.

Health insurance sign-ups under the law are scheduled to start on Nov. 1. This year, there are 12.2 million people enrolled in Obamacare plans through the state- and federal-run insurance markets.

In April, the Trump administration announced changes to shorten the time people have to sign up for coverage, and limit exceptions under the law when people could get coverage outside the normal enrollment periods. Those changes were billed as ways to keep insurers from leaving the program, though they’ve continued to do so, and have substantially raised the premiums they charge in many states.

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The Trump administration is announcing sharp cuts in programs promoting health care enrollment under the Affordable Care Act for next year.In a call with reporters, Health and Human Services officials say advertising will be cut to $10 million for the 2018 open enrollment...
health, care, funding, cut, trump, obamacare, signups
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2017-51-31
Thursday, 31 August 2017 04:51 PM
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