Marketplace Assisters Lose Grants Under Trump

The Trump administration’s CMS announced that it will cut grants for marketplace navigators (nonprofit organizations that help people sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act). The total grant reduction for these assisters under Trump has been about 80%.[cite]Trump Officials Slash Grants That Help Consumers Get Obamacare.[/cite]

This reduction were planned by the Trump administration and is part of a series of cuts aimed at reducing government spending on navigators over time, but each year the cuts have to be confirmed. Grants this fall will be $10 million, down from $36 million last year, and $63 million in 2016.[cite]Data Note: Changes in 2017 Federal Navigator Funding.[/cite]

Additionally, navigators are also now encouraged to introduce applicants “the range of available coverage options in addition to qualified health plans (QHPs), such as association health plans, short-term, limited-duration insurance, and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).”[cite]CMS Announces New Funding Opportunity Announcement for the Federally-Facilitated Exchange Navigator Program.[/cite] Qualified health plans (QHPs) are required to include the essential benefits or cover pre-existing conditions.

Supporters of the measure say that the program is working (or at least familiar) and the extra assistance signing up isn’t needed. However, critics of the measure point to assisters being helpful in some cases, such as in rural regions, where people don’t know about assistance and coverage options under the Affordable Care Act, don’t know how to sign up, or in some cases don’t have access to the internet (where one traditionally signs up).

Meanwhile both sides generally agree that this is part of a broad plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act via the executive office piece by piece in lieu of being able to pass a repeal and replace plan in congress. This can be confirmed by a range of statements given by President Trump and Democrats. For example, where Trump boasts about essentially gutting ObamaCare.

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