Health Care Primer: The Sabotage And Retaliation Edition

The Trump administration finds another way to throw sand in Obamacare's gears at patients' expense

Last year, the Trump administration cut more than 40 percent from the navigator program, which funds non-profits and grassroots groups that help people sign up for health insurance.

The reduction, the second round of cuts that began a summer ago, will shrink the federal money devoted to groups known as navigators from $36.8 million to $10 million for the enrollment period that starts in November.

President Donald Trump's administration has used its regulatory powers to undermine the ACA on multiple fronts after the Republican-controlled Congress previous year failed to repeal and replace the law.

Signaling the administration's long-term objectives, Andrew Bremberg, who oversees domestic policy at the White House, told reporters past year, "The president still firmly believes that Congress must act to repeal and replace Obamacare, but before that can be done, this administration must act to provide relief".

Since Congress was unable to pass such a law, Trump and his aides have been taking a series of steps to weaken the law through administration maneuvers. That was incorrect. Federal law requires insurers to pay into the pool, but the money is from the companies, not the federal government.

"It will create more market uncertainty and increase premiums for many health plans - putting a heavier burden on small businesses and consumers and reducing coverage options", the industry's trade group, America's Health Insurer's Plan, said in a statement. The Department of Health and Human Services is finishing another rule that will broaden the use of short-term insurance plans, originally intended as a brief bridge for people between jobs.

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Groups that apply for navigator grants will now be expected to encourage clients to buy those two types of insurance.

But at the same time, Verma would not say if the administration plans to stop approving state Medicaid work requirement waivers.

"The Trump administration's suspension of risk adjustment payments is just the latest attempt to undermine health care for millions of consumers across the country, including about 270,000 people enrolled in Washington state's individual market".

CMS will provide a minimum of $100,000 in each of the states that operate a federally-facilitated exchange (FFE).

If the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, private insurance companies could revert to rejecting people with many conditions-including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of less serious health problems-or charging them exorbitant rates for coverage. That's because on Tuesday, CMS announced another major cutback to its health insurance counseling program. In North Carolina, which has consistently had the nation's highest enrollments, the navigator budget will be cut by 85 percent - from $3.4 million to $500,000. The funding will be delivered to eligible organizations that can help individuals enroll in ACA health plans. But people who earn too much to qualify could be priced out of insurance.

The agency once again defended the decrease by saying that navigators, which usually hail from non-profit and community organizations, are not effective. Many of those are self-employed people and small-business owners, generally seen as a Republican constituency.

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