After holding payments to insurers on Monday, the Trump administration decided to move forward its efforts to undermine and halt the Affordable Care Act. They have done so by extensively cutting funds for companies that focus on helping people to search for effective coverage. They will now have about one-fourth of the budget they got for the 2018 open enrollment. This may cause for the companies affected to decrease their outreach or lower the number of services they provide.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the cuts on late Tuesday and specified that it would affect companies that function as a “marketplace” for people trying to find coverage in the states that use the HealthCare.gov website. These companies usually referred to as “navigators”, will have to compete for a ten million dollar fund. This is an enormous cut from previous years when the funding was of thirty-seven million dollars (2018) and sixty-three million (2017). The cuts are somewhat similar to the cuts made to advertising and promotion of the programs.
The previous cuts were already damaging to “navigators”, causing for them to decrease their number of employees, cancel events or even close their entire operations. New limitations will probably start interfering with their output, their efficiency, and their outreach. While spokespeople from CMS have stated that these cuts were done to limit the spending of federal funds, the savings made by the cut only represent half-a-percent of the expected funding for private Medicaid in 2019.
CMS also announced a different indication for navigators, which focuses on encouraging customers to enroll in short-term and limited-duration plans. These alternatives have been promoted by the Trump administration several times, yet they do not offer some basic benefits usually related to any health care coverage, such as prescription drugs and coverage to people with preexisting conditions. While navigators could have usually advised customers against purchasing this kind of coverage, CMS is currently working in making the plans available for a full year, which will seem like a viable option for many customers.
This is not the first attempt that the current White House has made to repeal the ACA. While still being unable to completely dismiss the law, their constant limitations have caused for premium prices to rise and for a decrease in overall enrollment. A previously accepted regulation could open the possibilities of people purchasing “association health plans”, which invite businesses to group and afford a general health care package. The downside of these plans is the fact that they do not include all of the benefits of an Obamacare insurance. The reform made a month ago took away the restrictions and limitations for businesses to bond, since they previously needed to present a substantial reason for their need for an associated health plan.
These schemes have not gone unnoticed by Democrats or the public: politicians running for this year’s November midterm elections realize that health care will be one of the central topics of their campaigns. In fact, a recent poll made by Reuters and IPSOS demonstrated that Democrat voters find health care to be the main issue in the country, and the one that will affect their vote in November the most. Several campaign ads have already addressed the Trump administration’s efforts to “sabotage Obamacare”.
Featured Image via Flickr/LaDawna Howard