The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealed on Thursday that the funds dedicated to promote enrollment in Obamacare health plans would be slashed by 90 percent from $100 to $10 million. The 90-percent cut will apply to both advertising and outreach programs.
To explain the administration’s decision, an HHS official hinted that the vast amount of taxpayers’ dollars spent promoting ObamaCare had not translated into as many enrollments as hoped for.
The move was expected. When the HHS was asked two weeks ago whether the Trump administration intended to continue promoting enrollment, a department official stated that all options remained on the table. However, in previous years, government officials would have by now contacted outreach groups to plan the enrollment season which begins in November.
“As Obamacare continues to collapse, the administration is considering its options on how to address the challenges Americans are facing by canceled plans, higher costs, and failing markets,” HHS spokeswoman Alleigh Marré responded at the time.
Following Thursday’s announcement, the HHS Department explained the reasons behind the decision.
“A health-care system that has caused premiums to double and left nearly half of our counties with only one coverage option is not working,” HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said before adding that the administration was committed to “serv[ing] the American people instead of trying to sell them a bad deal.”
The way ‘navigators’ – those outside organizations which promote enrollments – are paid will also be drastically revamped. Funding will now depend upon their performance. If an organization only reached 50 percent of its enrollment target, it will only receive half of its funding. Total funding for navigators will be cut by around 41 percent, from $62.5 million this year to around $36.8 million next year.
The Democrats of course criticized Mr. Trump’s decision and even accused him of trying to “sabotage” Barack Obama’s legacy legislation, even though ObamaCare was put on life support months ago.
“The Trump administration is deliberately attempting to sabotage our health care system. When the number of people with health insurance declines and costs skyrocket, the American people will know who’s to blame,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a statement.
As we already know, the number of people able to afford health insurance started to drop well before the November presidential election because of skyrocketing costs, as highlighted in the below chart.