Trump administration slashes funding for Obamacare outreach program

15 July, 2018, 13:43 | Author: Jared Lewis
  • Donald Trump

In justifying the cuts, CMS said the program is an "established marketplace" heading into its sixth year, so many people are more familiar with it.

Democrats were quick to denounce the administration's latest action. Sen. That's bad news for the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly and all others whose health care costs can run considerably higher than average. Association health plans were expanded earlier this year by the administration as a lower cost offering for Americans. Under the risk adjustment program, insurers with healthier policyholders contribute money, which is then divvied up among carriers with sicker ones.

Navigators are usually members of nonprofit and community organizations.

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"I have not heard any of this", said Catherine Edwards, executive director of the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, which has spread navigator money to groups across that state and took a 62 percent cut in funding past year. But a month later a federal judge in New Mexico said it was. The ACA also prohibits insurers from rejecting applicants with pre-existing conditions and from charging older people exorbitantly high rates because they are higher financial risks. The payments also were meant to try to prevent insurers from cherry-picking healthier patients to keep costs down. Many have started making a profit and some are expanding their involvement for 2019, a marked change from this time past year, when several carriers said they were going to pull out of the exchanges for 2018.

"Without this program, insurers might have taken on less risk in the market, especially in rural counties", said Mike Kreidler, Washington state's insurance commissioner.

"President Trump indicated his support for the plan the day after its publication, tweeting: "...on conservative health plan: "'The White House fully supports the efforts of the broad coalition from around the country working to address the Obamacare disaster and increase affordable healthcare options for middle-class Americans'".

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It's the only remaining risk mitigation program in Obamacare. There could have been a "substantive and thoughtful conversation" about what more needs to be done, she said. That's because many ACA customers will qualify for federal government premium subsidies, which are still alive and well in Obamacare. "It's time for the navigator program to evolve, which is why we are announcing a new direction for the program today", said CMS administrator Seema Verma. These limited benefit plans will compete directly with the comprehensive insurance on the exchanges, and navigators will be forced to sell consumers on them. That's because on Tuesday, CMS announced another major cutback to its health insurance counseling program.

Despite decreased funding levels, navigators will now be tasked with helping consumers sign up for short-term "association health plans" that are not required to comply with all of the Affordable Care Act regulations.

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.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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