Trump officials considering cuts to ObamaCare outreach groups
The Trump administration is considering cutting funding for ObamaCare outreach groups that help people enroll in coverage, sources say.
An initial proposal by the administration would have cut the funding for the groups, known as “navigators,” from $36 million last year to $10 million this year. Sources say that proposal now could be walked back, and it is possible funding could remain the same as last year, but it is unclear where the final number will end up.
Democrats are sure to seize on any cut to the program as further evidence that President Trump is “sabotaging” the health-care law, a key argument they are making ahead of the midterm elections.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to a request for comment.
The Trump administration caused a stir last year when it cut funding for the program.
Officials announced it would cut funding from $63 million down to $36 million in August 2017, a move that was decried by Democrats.
Trump administration officials argued at the time that the program was ineffective and needed to be reformed. The administration said it would base funding on how well each navigator group performed in enrollment.
Navigator groups are on edge and say they have not heard anything from the administration about their funding for this year. In past years, they had been told how much money would be available by April or May.
Navigator groups do outreach and help people discuss their options for health insurance and find the right plan. Backers say they are particularly helpful for enrolling hard-to-reach people like those in rural areas or those who do not speak English well.
“Less resources means we have less boots on the ground to provide that enrollment assistance,” said Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids and Families, a navigator group.
Democrats decry cuts to the navigator program as part of a larger effort by Republicans to undermine the health law.
In particular, they are stressing premium increases for next year that are, in part, attributable to Republicans repealing ObamaCare’s mandate for people to get coverage in last year’s tax law.
“It’s clear the Trump-GOP sabotage of our health-care system shows no bounds, with each action a massive betrayal to the president’s own supporters and middle-class families who will see higher costs because of the president’s actions,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said earlier this month.
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