ObamaCare enrollment groups likely to decrease services after Trump funding cuts

ObamaCare enrollment groups likely to decrease services after Trump funding cuts
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Local and state groups that help with ObamaCare enrollment say they will likely have to reduce their services following funding cuts from the Trump administration. 

Funding for the "navigator" groups, which provide outreach, education and enrollment assistance, was cut in half this year for being "ineffective," Trump officials have said. 

Now most of the navigator programs say they will have to limit their services this year, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). 

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Among programs that got reduced funding this year, 45 percent of statewide programs and two-thirds of regional programs said it is "somewhat or very likely" they will have to limit the territory their program will serve, according to the survey. 

This could primarily impact consumers living in rural areas. 

Some 55 percent of statewide navigator programs and 72 percent of regional programs expect to limit services to rural residents this year, KFF found. 

And 89 percent of all programs surveyed said they expect to lay off staff because of the funding cuts. 

In addition, 89 percent said it's likely they'll spend less on advertising while 81 percent said they might have to reduce the number of outreach activities and events. 

While 57 percent said they will likely reduce the number of months that they provide enrollment assistance. 

Among navigator programs surveyed, 49 percent said they received no rationale from the federal government for the cuts while 40 percent said the reasoning was very or somewhat unclear. 

KFF conducted the online survey of the navigator programs from Sept. 22 to Oct. 4 with a response rate of 51 percent. 

Open enrollment for ObamaCare begins Nov. 1 and experts already believe it will be a challenging one. 

On top of the navigator funding cuts, the Trump administration has said it will cut the advertising budget for the health-care law by 90 percent. 

This year's open enrollment period has also been cut in half, compared to previous years, giving people less time to sign up for coverage. 

Many states are also expected to see premium increases, some in the double digits, as insurers complain about uncertainty from the Trump administration.