CMS Cuts ACA Navigator Funding Grants by $26M for 2019

14 July, 2018, 02:56 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Trump administration freezes billions of dollars in payments to Obamacare insurers

"We are very discouraged by the new market disruption brought about by the decision to freeze risk adjustment payments", America's Health Insurance Plans said in a statement. Insurers are already saying the decision will force them to set their premiums even higher in 2019 to make up for this uncertainty, which is likely to price more people out of the market. The president's campaign has taken aim at the remaining fig leaves of reform in the health care legislation voted into law in 2010.

The president last fall also issued an executive order to try to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy health plans that cost less than ACA coverage because they cover fewer medical services and bypass the law's rules meant to protect people from old insurance practices in which companies had charged higher prices to women, older people, and those with preexisting medical conditions.

The plan would replace federal payments to insurance companies with block grants to states, allowing states to "innovate" by providing low-cost, low-benefit plans.

The Trump Administration said Tuesday it is slashing funding for groups that assist with Obamacare enrollment - marking the second consecutive year the Administration has cut such funding.

"This action will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small business owners and could result in far fewer health plan choices", said Scott Serota, CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents 36 independent insurers, many of whom are key players on the exchanges. Insurers proposed rates in May.

Also last month, the Trump administration announced it was releasing rules making it easier for small businesses and self-employed individuals to buy insurance plans that do not comply with Obamacare's regulations.

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A spokeswoman for the state Insurance Department said the agency is not commenting because officials are reviewing the federal government's announcement. The government asked the court to reconsider its ruling. Arnam said many people spend considerable time learning about health insurance options from a navigator, but enroll later at home.

The payments were created to stop insurers from losing money on very sick patients, who cost the most to treat.

Navigator groups that have helped people sign up for health insurance since Obamacare coverage began in 2014 said the funding cuts will be hard to absorb.

The latest "Obamacare" flare-up does not affect most people with employer coverage. The agency has worked with insurers to address their concerns and to adjust the formula under both the Obama and Trump administrations. Immediately after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cast the deciding vote to block the dramatic repeal effort, Trump implored Republicans to let the law disintegrate. But the White House never produced a proposal, and legislation from congressional Republicans would have left millions uninsured, while undermining protections for people with pre-existing health problems.

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. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that will raise premiums by about 10 percent.

Navigators have been on the forefront on ACA enrollment for five years in North Carolina.

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