Cutting Funds for Obamacare Helpers Will Hurt 2018 Outreach, Survey Says

Big cuts in federal funds for groups that help people sign up for Obamacare plans will result in less outreach for 2018, when the exchanges are already challenged by a second year of double-digit premium increases and a shorter enrollment period.

Those were the findings of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of the navigator groups in 34 states that use the federal exchange. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would reduce funding for the so-called navigator groups more than 40 percent, and it said it would base funding on whether the groups had met enrollment goals they had set for themselves.

HHS said 78 percent of navigators failed to meet those goals from the previous year.

Many pro-ACA groups have sharply criticized the cuts, saying the action is an attempt by President Donald Trump to sabotage the Affordable Care Act after attempts to repeal the law in Congress failed. Kaiser Family Foundation is nonpartisan, but it clearly favors the ACA.

But not everyone thinks the cuts are an example of sabotage. Joel White, president of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, who called the ACA a “flawed law” in a recent editorial, commented to me that there’s no reason why taxpayers should have to fund marketing for health insurers to sell their products.

“Ford tells you about the trucks they sell,” White said, and he pointed to Get America Covered, a group of former Obama administration officials who started operating Oct. 4 to get people enrolled and now has a six-figure budget, as an example of using private financing to help get people signed up.

On background, an official with America’s Health Insurance Plans told me that exchange plans have been looking into increasing outreach and marketing.

Read my full story here.

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