Earlier this month the Trump Administration took more actions towards sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and people’s access to quality health care suitable for their needs. The Administration is eliminating almost all the funding for “navigators”, the grass roots groups that help Americans “navigate” the health insurance marketplace to buy coverage, and, at the same time, is asking those navigators to promote “junk plans” that bypass the consumer protections and benefit requirements of ACA plans.
Last year navigators’ funding was cut by 41%, from $62.5 million, while the outreach and education budget for ACA plan enrollment was cut by 90%. With this year’s cut, the navigators’ funding falls from $36.8 million to $10 million.
Also, having the federal government give funding priority to navigator applicants that agree to promote non-ACA plans is inappropriate. As Senator Ron Wyden (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee said, this practice amounts to “federally funded fraud: paying groups to sell unsuspecting Americans on junk plans that allow insurance companies to deny care on a whim and charge whatever they want is nothing but a scam.” Until now, navigator grant funds have been used “only to help people choose and buy ACA health plans or to help steer people with low incomes toward Medicaid,” as stated in a recent Washington Post article.
California Health Advocates joins our other health advocacy partners nationwide in demanding the Administration restore full funding to the navigators program, and to outreach, education and assistance needed for Americans during the ACA’s open enrollment period.
For more information, read the Washington Post’s article, Administration slashes grant to help Americans get Affordable Care Act coverage.