The 2018 healthcare enrollment period is nearly upon us, but it may end up being a bit more chaotic than previous years. Why? Well, it turns out our President has been busy trying to damage the Affordable Care Act, all after basically telling Republicans in the Senate to give up on trying to repeal Obamacare.
So what kind of damage is he or has he caused? It turns out the Trump administration has plans to “significantly scale back Obamacare outreach efforts for the upcoming enrollment season, slashing spending on advertising and funding to community groups deployed to boost enrollment.” When discussing how much will be slashed from the program, HHS officials said: “the federal government will cut the Obamacare advertising budget from $100 million to $10 million in the upcoming 2018 enrollment season.”
Additionally, funding for navigator organizations “that help people enroll will be cut from $63 million last year to roughly $37 million” because President Trump allowed funding for “Obamacare’s $63 million in-person outreach program to lapse.” As a result of his apparent desire to destroy the Affordable Care Act, many navigator organizations are expecting to have to lay off workers, and many nonprofits that typically work hard to enroll vulnerable populations are just plain confused about what’s going on. In a recent statement, Donna Friedsam, the director of Covering Wisconsin, said “I have delivered 10 layoff notices to staff members. We don’t have a funding flow anymore.”
The timing of the president’s decision couldn’t come at a worse time, either. With the enrollment period beginning on November 1, many navigator groups were just “beginning to ramp up outreach” to reach as many people as possible. However, in response to President Trump’s actions, many navigator organizations have had to cancel their planned “outreach work and appointments with potential enrollees because they have no budget to cover” the cost. This is particularly upsetting because navigator groups provide in-person assistance when helping individuals sign up for coverage. In fact, “one-third of those who seek in-person help signing up for coverage do not have internet at home, and one in 10 do not speak English.”
In response to the administration’s decision to attack the Affordable Care Act, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a recent statement:
“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.”
Understandably this latest move on the president’s part has caused a whirlwind of chaos and confusion, which seems pretty par for the course under this new administration.