Trump administration cuts grants to help people get Obamacare

Frederick Owens
July 15, 2018

The administration has taken several steps meant to offer alternatives to Affordable Care Act plans, or to destabilize its markets.

The Florida group will need to make hard choices about who they serve during open enrollment period that begins in November.

"The reluctance of provider organizations to take on risk has always been I think the principal obstacle here".

Trump's administration has used its regulatory powers to undermine the ACA on multiple fronts after the Republican-controlled Congress previous year failed to repeal and replace the law instituted by Democratic President Barack Obama.

"It does send a signal of course that the administration is not promoting enrollment", he said.

This follows a reduction announced by the CMS last August from $62.5 million, along with an even bigger cut to advertising for enrollment, and represents the latest in a series of moves to weaken the ACA by the administration of President Donald Trump.

Should those payments remain frozen, three insurers-Blue Shield of California, Health Care Services Corporation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida-would miss out on more than $2 billion due this fall, according to data released (PDF) by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Navigators say some of the work they do, like with Medicaid, isn't counted by the government.

The elimination of risk adjustment funds also comes as Maryland officials await a decision from CMS on another funding mechanism they believe would help stabilize the market and provide money to insurers to help pay for expensive patients. But a month later a federal judge in New Mexico said it was.

The announcement also said navigators helped enroll fewer than 1 percent of the almost 12 million Americans who signed up for ACA coverage for 2018 - a figure that navigators contend understates their accomplishments.

Greg Fann, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries, said the role of navigators has been overstated.

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Insurers were required to meet a June deadline to say in which in counties they'll sell insurance, as well as which kind of plans - so those are locked in, pending a state review. "We've been sending people to navigators", Israel said.

Covered California, for example, is holding its navigator funding steady, dedicating $6.5 million to navigators in this year's budget.

Centene Corp., which specializes in health coverage for low-income people, has filed plans to enter North Carolina, where the vast majority of the state is served by just one insurer.

California has 1.5 million people in Obamacare plans, second highest in the nation behind Florida, which has 1.6 million. Health law experts are... Immediately after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cast the deciding vote to block the dramatic repeal effort, Trump implored Republicans to let the law disintegrate.

But his administration has not stood idly by. The outcomes of these cases will directly impact millions of Americans, particularly people with preexisting conditions, disabilities, older Americans and other vulnerable communities who rely on the ACA.

"It's time for the Navigator program to evolve, which is why we are announcing a new direction for the program today", Verma said in a statement. The assault on pre-existing condition protections may make its way to the Supreme Court soon, and if Brett Kavanaugh is sitting on the bench, affordable health care for all will be at serious risk.

This adds to the concern about the lack of navigator funding.

Additionally, Congress scrapped the ACA's requirement that all individuals purchase health coverage, and Trump is set to allow skimpier plans to be sold more widely.

"I can not justify paying that much money for a health-care service that I use once a year", she said. "There's a large portion of the population that we talk to that doesn't understand the ACA and needs assistance". She's hoping to land a full-time job with health insurance before she has to renew her coverage. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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