Trump Administration Slashes Funding that Helps Consumers Enroll in Health Insurance

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Announces a Cut of Nearly 90 Percent from 2016 Funding Levels

(BOSTON, MA) – Statement of Robert Restuccia, executive director of Community Catalyst, in response to the Trump administration’s announcement last night that it will impose steep cuts in funding for in-person assistance that helps millions of consumers across the country enroll in health insurance.

“Last night, the Trump administration released its funding opportunity announcement for navigators, which includes a nearly 90 percent cut from 2016 funding levels. These grants provide critical, unbiased, in-person assistance through ‘navigators’ to help individuals and families enroll in health insurance coverage. Navigators play a particularly important role in areas of the country where consumers may lack access to broader enrollment resources and finding assistance is burdensome.

“This funding decision is the latest in a growing series of attacks on our nation’s health care orchestrated by the Trump administration. The inadequate $10 million navigator grant is an 84 percent cut in services since 2016 and a 42 percent cut over last year’s already meager funding levels.

“This series of rollbacks stretched many consumer assistance organizations to the breaking point, with dozens of organizations laying off staff and some forced to close their doors entirely. Cuts of this magnitude also reduce promotional information about the availability and affordability of plans in the marketplace, leaving consumers with few, if any, resources for understanding their health insurance options.

“In fact, last year’s navigator funding cut resulted in numerous states having regions where no enrollment support was available to help consumers determine which health plans best met their or their families’ needs. Navigators not only help consumers find and access health insurance, but explain how to use and keep the coverage they have.

“The continued attacks on health care--including the administration’s efforts to change federal rules to allow for the expansion of junk insurance plans, known as association health plans and short-term plans--will likely lead to consumers enrolling in coverage that won’t be there in their time of need. It’s also clear from this announcement that the administration is using the funding process to steer consumers toward these junk insurance plans. The confusion and chaos around health care fostered by the Trump administration require more consumer assistance, not less.

“Members of Congress should be deeply concerned that the cuts will not only lead to the loss of jobs in their districts, but also impede their constituents’ ability to enroll in health coverage. Congress should step in to provide the support consumers across the U.S. need to make the best decision on behalf of their families to gain, use and maintain health coverage.

“We call on Congress to reverse these cuts and increase investments in enrollment and health literacy assistance now and for years to come.”

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About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @HealthPolicyHub.

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