Representatives Ryan (OH-13), Kaptur (OH-09), Beatty (OH-03), and Fudge (OH-11) Demand Answers on Administration’s Decision to Cut Healthcare Enrollment Assistance Programs

Oct 12, 2017 Issues: Health Care

Washington, DC – Today, Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and Joyce Beatty (OH-03) called on Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma to provide detailed answers regarding cuts in services and outreach programs that help citizens enroll in health care plans. This is in response to the Trump Administration’s handling of the upcoming open enrollment period. 

“The Administration’s actions regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have thrown millions of families and individuals into uncertainty weeks before the open enrollment period begins, which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has inexplicably condensed from 90 days to 45 days. We are concerned that actions taken by HHS will impact Americans and Ohioans alike,” said the Members.

The Members detailed several concerning actions by the Administration which undermine the open enrollment process and requested more information on the following:

  • The Administration cut the ACA Navigator program’s budget which resulted in the Ohio Association of Foodbanks exiting the navigator program due to a 71% funding reduction, leaving the state with no navigators, and laying off 54 area employees.
  • HHS cut the ACA advertising budget by 90%, from $100 million to $10 million. CMS under the former Administration stated television advertisements proved to be the most cost-effective way to encourage enrollment, but the current Administration will not be running any TV ads this year. 
  • In September, HHS told its 10 regional directors not to participate in state-based education events before open enrollment. Many marketplace pre-enrollment events have already been planned for months, bringing together navigators, insurance brokers, state officials, and community health centers.
  • HHS reported that HealthCare.gov, the federally operated marketplace, would be offline for all but one Sunday during the 45-day open enrollment period due to maintenance. Except for December 10, the site will be inaccessible between 12:00am and 12:00pm (EST) each Sunday and on Wednesday, November 1, the first day of open enrollment. 

The Members concluded their letter by saying, “While President Trump has repeatedly called for allowing the Affordable Care Act to ‘collapse’ it appears that the Administration is abdicating its legal responsibility to conduct outreach and assistance to help American families and individuals who simply wish to have access to health insurance coverage.”

“Individuals will now be without the help they need to enroll in health care plans even though every American is required to have health insurance under current law, and face tax consequences if they fail to obtain coverage. This lack of support is due to arbitrary budget cuts, time restrictions, and ultimately a politicized process, which will not benefit the American people.”

You can download a copy of the letter here