Trump Administration Aims to Steer People Toward Junk Health Plans Over Obamacare

Nora Nguyen
July 15, 2018

The Trump Administration said Tuesday it is slashing funding for groups that assist with Obamacare enrollment - marking the second consecutive year the Administration has cut such funding. "As a result of this litigation, billions of dollars in risk adjustment payments and collections are now on hold. It doesn't provide comfort, I think, to those trying to expand".

In its announcement, the CMS reprised arguments it made a year ago that navigators, which operate with the annual grants in the 34 states that rely on the ACA's federal insurance exchange, have been ineffective and are less important than they once were: "As the exchange has grown in visibility and become more familiar to Americans seeking health insurance, the need for federally funded navigators has diminished".

Verma said her agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is asking the court to reconsider, but until that happens, its hands are tied. Navigators, the Trump administration has said, have only signed up about 1 percent of all people who enroll in ACA-approved programs each of the past two years. Supporters of the health law called the move another sign of the administration's determination to undermine the ACA. The funding will also be provided to each organization based on their success levels for enrollment, a measure CMS said would "ensure accountability within the program and avoid rewarding grantees that have failed to meet performance measures".

The Florida group will need to make hard choices about who they serve during open enrollment period that begins in November. This introduces uncertainty into the ACA markets just as insurers are deciding next year's rates.

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A federal court ruling in New Mexico found the administration did not properly justify its formula for dispensing the funds.

If you're been buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, here's more news you need to know. "We see, in all these various places we're in, that people want the product we have".

But navigators say this understates their accomplishments.

"The federal government's decision to suspend payment transfers under the ACA's risk adjustment program could have a significant impact on premiums and place an additional burden on people in the community who can least afford it", CareFirst's president and CEO, Brian Pieninck, said in a statement.

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"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'". 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 plan would replace federal payments to insurance companies with block grants to states, allowing states to "innovate" by providing low-cost, low-benefit plans.

These plans, however, aren't required to have the same consumer protections as ACA policies. They also help consumers file appeals with insurers. She's hoping to land a full-time job with health insurance before she has to renew her coverage.

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