Insurers urge quick fix to halted ACA payments

Trump administration slashes grants to help Americans get Affordable Care Act coverage

The Trump administration's latest action fits a pattern to weaken Obamacare

In announcing a more than 70 percent funding cut from a year ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a notice that the marketplace navigator groups should be able to "stretch their funding further" with less demand for in-person assistance because the marketplace is more familiar to most Americans. No taxpayer subsidies are involved.

In listing examples of the kinds of groups eligible to apply for the money that remains, the CMS did not mention the grass-roots nonprofits that have done most of this work.

Last August, federal health officials announced they were reducing the navigators' aid by 41 percent - from $62.5 million - and slashing a related budget for advertising and other outreach activities to foster ACA enrollment by 90 percent.

Trump administration officials said they chose to suspend payments under the program because of a ruling in February from a Federal District Court in New Mexico. The move is the latest effort by the Trump administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act. These plans have been allowed under the law, but can only last a limited duration of three months, but the administration is going to publish a regulation in the coming weeks allowing consumers to enroll in these plans for a full year. This introduces uncertainty into the ACA markets just as insurers are deciding next year's rates.

Serota noted that the payments are required by law and said he believes the administration has the legal authority to continue making them despite the court cases.

Verma is right, just look at the frightful recruitment results of these navigators over the past few years.

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

CMS was referring to a February ruling from a federal court in New Mexico that invalidated the risk adjustment formula, and a January ruling from a federal court in MA that upheld it.

The latest "Obamacare" flare-up does not affect most people with employer coverage. About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program. The administration could just as easily have listened to a judge in MA who ruled the opposite way or awaited the results of an appeal. The other half are covered by expanded Medicaid. John McCain, R-Ariz., cast a crucial "no" vote, with a thumbs down gesture that's become a target of Trump criticism at campaign-style rallies. During his first year in office, Trump pressed the Republican-led Congress to repeal much of the 2010 law, one of President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievements.

The fragile health markets suffered another brow as the U.S government under the leadership of Trump froze billions of dollars of disbursements to Obamacare health insurers. Taken together, these moves will have the effect of damaging the ACA's marketplaces by attracting younger, healthier people, while forcing older, sicker people to either pay more for insurance or purchase sub-par insurance that might not cover services they need.

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