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Trump Slashes Budget For Obamacare Outreach, Assistance

Paul Sableman

The Trump Administration said this week it was cutting additional funding support for Affordable Care Act enrollment initiatives. Officials said it was because the services had served their purposes, but detractors saw it as a blatant attempt to sabotage Obamacare.

Earlier this summer, President Donald Trump urged an audience at the White House to "let Obamacare fail" as it became clear the Republican overhaul of the far-reaching health care act was unlikely to succeed. 

Then, in late July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it wouldn't be renewing funding for federally-supported open enrollment assistance centers for the 2018 period, although the government insisted it wasn't part of a scheme to let the Affordable Care Act collapse. 

In a similar move this week, officials with the Department of Health and Human Services said the administration was cutting the Obamacare advertising budget by 90 percent and additionally slashing funds for navigator services, which help people sign up for plans, according to the New York Times

The officials said the administration believed that the cuts were necessary because of “diminishing returns” from advertising. They said the number of first-time enrollees in Affordable Care Act coverage fell by 42 percent this year, compared with 2016. In addition, they said that many navigator groups failed to meet their enrollment targets last year, despite sometimes receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds.

Officials said navigators were underperforming and additionally, now that the ACA exchange has been up and running for years, were unnecessary at this juncture.

Trump Administration Sharply Cuts Spending on Health Law Enrollment Over all, 12.2 million people selected or automatically re-enrolled in marketplace plans for 2017, although the Trump administration said in June that the number of customers who paid their premiums had dropped to 10.1 million.