The Trump administration plans on making a 90 percent cut to the advertising budget for Obamacare during the upcoming enrollment period.
In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spent $100 million on Obamacare advertising and outreach, but for this year’s open enrollment period, CMS plans on spending $10 million.
They also plan on cutting grant money for Navigator programs (which are required by the ACA), which receive funds to assist with public enrollment in Obamacare. Navigator programs in this upcoming enrollment period will only receive funding based on their performance during the previous enrollment period. If a Navigator program, for example, only reached 70 percent of its enrollment goal, they will only receive 70 percent of the previous year’s funding in the next enrollment period.
Randal Serr, director of Take Care Utah, the network of Navigator programs in Utah, told ABC News it’s an “absurd” way to measure funding.
“The cuts undervalue the work that Navigators do -- we don’t just help people enroll, we help them stay healthy, keep their insurance, we make sure doctors and medications are covered. A lot of times we spend days or weeks helping them navigate glitches in the system.”
CMS claims that they have not found any correlation between advertising spending and enrollment increases, and Navigator programs have been costly. These cuts are simply a way to save money and save Americans from “a bad deal,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Democrats, however, are calling the cuts “sabotage.”
“Trump Admin is deliberately sabotaging our healthcare system. When number of insured drops & costs rise, American ppl will know who to blame,” wrote Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, on Twitter.
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, echoed concerns that this is a way to get less people enrolled. “Plain and simple: this is the Trump Administration working to ensure that *fewer* people get health insurance,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Judging effectiveness by the amount of money spent and not the results achieved is irresponsible and unhelpful to the American people. Under the Trump Administration, we’re committed to more responsible, effective government. Obamacare’s Navigator program has been ineffective. During the upcoming enrollment period, Navigators will be funded in proportion to their performance,” said Department of Health and Human Services press secretary Caitlin Oakley in a statement.
“A healthcare system that has caused premiums to double and left nearly half of our counties with only one coverage option is not working. The Trump Administration is determined to serve the American people instead of trying to sell them a bad deal.”