Obamacare 'navigator' program cut further by Trump administration

14 July, 2018, 02:55 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • In another act of sabotage Trump slashes Obamacare outreach funding to the bone

The agencies in a statement said that they were seeking legal redress and understanding and will be informing all the involved participants of any bring up-to-date information regarding the current collections or future payments at the right time.

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

The move is just the latest in a line of decisions by the Trump administration to undermine the ACA.

"It does send a signal of course that the administration is not promoting enrollment", he said. In President Barack Obama's past year in office, $63 million was spent on it.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma said the navigators that operate in the 34 states that use the federal marketplace - including many health and religious organizations - were ineffective and had outlived their usefulness.

Navigators say they don't get credit for all the consumers they help guide through the process but don't actually sign up.

It also said last year's cuts had minimal impact, as year-over-year enrollment dipped slightly, to 11.8 million from 12.2 million, and that navigators enrolled less than 1 percent of HealthCare.gov customers overall. Back in February, a federal judge partially agreed with the insurer and barred the government from making further collections or payments using its current formula. Arnam said many people spend considerable time learning about health insurance options from a navigator, but enroll later at home.

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Greg Fann, a fellow with the Society of Actuaries, said the role of navigators has been overstated. Last fall President Trump signed an executive order expanding access to association health plans and short-term limited-duration insurance.

The most radical plan drafted by congressional Republicans last year-known as the Graham-Cassidy bill after two of its authors, Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana)-would basically eliminate the ACA's private insurance marketplaces as well as Medicaid expansion, replacing them with lower-funded state block grants with few strings attached. He said most independent brokers want nothing to do with ACA plans because insurers have cut their commissions.

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

Navigators have been on the forefront on ACA enrollment for five years in North Carolina.

Trump spent his first year in office trying to repeal the health law and came within one vote in the U.S. Senate of achieving that goal.

Critics said the move would mean less assistance, particularly for underserved, harder to reach American communities. In a surprise weekend announcement, the Trump administration temporarily suspended $10 billion worth of 2017 "risk adjustment payments". That could take millions of dollars away from some insurers, causing them to hike prices or abandon markets. Administration officials tout these plans as more affordable, but they're cheaper because they don't have to meet the ACA's requirements for decent health plans, like including maternity care and prescription drug coverage, and charging the same rate for people with preexisting conditions. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 27 percent of people under the age of 65 have what could be considered a pre-existing condition.

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