This Is My Shocked Face: Trump Admin "considering" slashing navigator/outreach funding by ANOTHER 72%
2018 MIDTERM ELECTION
Time: D H M S
Last summer, as part of his blatant and openly-declared attempt to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump's HHS Dept. slashed the marketing budget for HealthCare.Gov, the federal ACA exchange, by a whopping 90% (from $100 million to just $10 million), while also cutting the navigator/outreach budget by 41% (from $59 million down to $36 million). On top of this, they also proceeded to confuse the hell out of the grantees of those remaining funds by not providing any information or details before sending out the funds...and then changing their minds at the last minute in many cases and pulling the checks literally moments before they were supposed to be put in the mail. They also slashed the Open Enrollment Period itself in half while they were at it, from 3 months down to just 6 weeks.
In response to this, there was a massive grassroots mobilization by volunteer activists and third-party organizations to counter Trump's efforts to quash the 5th Open Enrollment Period. Folks like Get America Covered, the ACA Signup Project and, of course, my own efforts here at ACA Signups (duh!), among others, helped get the word out. Meanwhile, 9 states which operate their own ACA exchange stuck with longer Open Enrollment Periods (some by only a week or so, while others like CA, NY & DC kept to the full 3 month window).
These efforts, combined with one of Trump's other sabotage attempts mostly backfiring by unintentionally making ACA policies more affordable for several million people, mostly cancelled out the cuts, resulting in total 2018 enrollments dropping by just 3.8% nationally. In fact, enrollment actually increased slightly in 15 states.
Well, it looks like we may have to redouble our efforts for 2019, because Trump isn't done taking shots at ACA outreach:
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.
...Officials announced it would cut funding from $63 million down to $36 million in August 2017, a move that was decried by Democrats.
If they go through with this, that would be a 72% cut from last year's budget, or an 84% total cut from 2017's $63 million. [There's a $4 million discrepancy between the two articles on how much the starting 2017 budget was.]
The good news here, such as it is, is that the ACA Signups Project is already ramping up for the 2019 Open Enrollment Period, and intends to hit the ground running early with even more volunteers to help spread the word.