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Was Trump Right Slashing the Obamacare Ad Budget By 90%?

by Countable | 9.1.17

What’s the story?

President Trump is slashing the Obamacare advertising budget by 90%.

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services spent $100 million to raise public awareness about the Affordable Care Act. This year, CMS only plans on spending $10 million.

Funding for "navigators" – those helping people sign up on the individual market – will be cut from $62.5 million to $36.8 million. Navigators, who are employed by nonprofits, signed up roughly 81,500 people in 2016.

In addition, the Trump administration will shrink the open enrollment period to nearly half of what it was during the Obama administration: for 2017 coverage, open enrollment ran from November 1 through January 31; for 2018 coverage, open enrollment will run from November 1 through December 15.

The Boston Herald reported that around "12.2 million people signed up for subsidized private health insurance under the [ACA]" for 2017, including “many in states that President Donald Trump carried in November. Current enrollment is estimated to be around 10 million, due to attrition also seen in prior years.”

Why does it matter?

With few exceptions, individuals can only change their insurance, or sign up for new insurance, during the marketplace’s open enrollment period. President Obama made it a priority to spread the word about open enrollment and get people signing up. This included commercials, Tweets, and off-beat interviews, including the one on Between Two Ferns.

By refusing to promote the exchanges, or directing people to sign up on healthcare.gov, the Trump administration could cause a steep decline in new enrollees. This, in turn, could cause fewer people to sign up for health care which would cause insurers to have to dramatically raise their rates. It’s why some have been calling the advertising cuts "sabotage."

"Trump Admin is deliberately sabotaging our healthcare system. When number of insured drops & costs rise, American ppl will know who to blame," wrote Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Twitter.

Similarly, on Wednesday a bipartisan coalition of governors – led by Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich - sent a letter to Congress outlining their hopes for the ACA. Among other guidelines, they propose the federal government "Maximize market participation" by

"First and foremost, encouraging younger, healthier people to enroll in insurance and educating Americans about the importance of coverage can help improve the risk pool. The federal government should continue to fund outreach and enrollment efforts that encourage Americans to sign up for insurance. Many states invest in similar efforts, and all states need the federal government's support to maximize participation from younger, healthier people."

The press secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, Caitlin Oakley, disagreed. "Judging effectiveness by the amount of money spent and not the results achieved is irresponsible and unhelpful to the American people," said Oakley. “A health care system that has caused premiums to double and left nearly half of our counties with only one coverage option is not working. The Trump administration is determined to serve the American people instead of trying to sell them a bad deal."

This isn’t the first time the new administration is pulling advertising for Obamacare. As CNN Money noted, the Trump administration "halted up to $5 million worth of ads just days after taking office in January. The campaign was intended to alert consumers to the end of the 2017 sign-up period on January 31. Outreach is considered critical in the final days of the enrollment period to remind consumers - particularly younger ones - of the deadline. Sign ups typically surge during this time."

What do you think?

Is cutting the ACA advertising budget about serving "the American people instead of trying to sell them a bad deal"? Or should the federal government “continue to fund outreach and enrollment efforts that encourage Americans to sign up for insurance”? Do you already know about healthcare.gov and the open-enrollment period? Hit the Take Action button, tell your reps, and share your thoughts below—the comment period is always open.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: chokkicx / iStockphoto)

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Leave a comment
(160)
  • A
    09/01/2017
    ···

    No. This is a successful, if still in need for expansion, program that allowed millions of Americans access to affordable healthcare. Just because upper middle class Americans are paying slightly higher premiums, that doesn't mean it failed. It means that it needs to be expanded and funded by those who have means.

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  • Ray
    09/02/2017
    ···

    The president's effort to kill Obamacare continues and it is shameful. Without information, how is the unwitting public able to know about the government program that was created for them?

    Like (26)
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  • Loretta
    09/01/2017
    ···

    So exactly where did the money get re-appropriated to? The Wall?, Disaster Relief? New Make America Great Again Hats?

    Like (21)
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  • Lisa
    09/02/2017
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    No way. POTUS and congress need to work together to fix ACA - not sabotage it. They are messing with the health of tens of millions of people. ACA is broken, but if Center Dems and Reps worked together it could be fixed. Scrapping and starting all over is futile. Hats off to John McCAine for doing the right thing.

    Like (17)
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  • Nicholas
    09/02/2017
    ···

    I fail to see how this is "faithfully executing the laws". He swore an oath, and now that he can't dismantle Obamacare legislatively, he will try to do it any other way possible. Legal or otherwise.

    Like (13)
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  • Joel
    09/02/2017
    ···

    The ACA is not failing- it is under attack. I ask that you defend the right of all Americans to have affordable, quality healthcare. Slashing the advertising budget for ACA is ridiculous. Put the money back.

    Like (10)
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  • Mary
    09/01/2017
    ···

    Come on you guys. Our lives are hard enough. Can't you just give us all a break. We are talking health care for crying out loud.

    Like (9)
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  • Terry
    09/01/2017
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    Yes. Cut it to zero. It's just advertising with no info.

    Like (7)
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  • Eric
    09/01/2017
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    Another stupid "solution" he will take no accountability for when it worsens people lives.

    Like (7)
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  • lionhart2x
    09/01/2017
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    Removing support for the ACA should be a violation of 45s promise to protect and defend law of the land. It is. Congress and the Senate need to act! Impeach!

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  • Susan
    09/01/2017
    ···

    No no no no no!!! He is obsessed with Obama and trying to erase anything he had anything to do with even if it helps Americans. Donald Trump is a Russian agent not an American and he proves it every day more and more

    Like (7)
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  • Ticktock
    09/02/2017
    ···

    Trump is being the autocrat that he's always been. He hasn't been able to kill the ACA in Congress so he's decided to be the hatchet man himself even against the wishes of the majority of the US citizens. He doesn't see himself as an elected President, he sees himself as King and Congress as and impediment. Elections in hope will be held in 2018 and again in 2020 if Trump allows. I am an independent but I will not be voting Republican for anyone. Republicans are failing their responsibility to the US citizens. The majority is being ruled by minority and this cannot go beyond 2020!

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  • Brian
    09/02/2017
    ···

    This is just another attempt by a weak mind to sabotage a program that is working. It needs changes, and will get them, Trump is just mad that he didn't get his way and is actively trying to ruin it so he can say "I told you so." Pathetic.

    Like (6)
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  • Eileen
    09/02/2017
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    It is still the law and he should be supporting it. Serving all the people of this country. Denying access to healthcare is wrong. It now needs to be known as Trumpcare since he is hell bent on making it fail and never once has given an ideal his vision of "wonderful" healthcare.

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  • Margaret
    09/01/2017
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    Cutting the advertising budget keeps citizens from knowing what their government is doing. Shameful!!

    Like (6)
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  • Figaro
    09/01/2017
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    Trump and Congress are bound by existing law to support it. This is designed to gradually destroy the law.

    Like (5)
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  • Christopherhall
    09/02/2017
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    Slashing the ACA advertising budget, much of which grows the risk pool by targeting new, young, healthy enrollees, is an attempt to sabotage the ACA. This is not in the best interests of or desired by a majority of citizens. Un-slash it!

    Like (4)
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  • James
    09/01/2017
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    Get rid of Obama care completely. It's a nightmare.

    Like (4)
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  • Dean
    09/02/2017
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    Please make sure the ACA is fully funded and encourage all to sign up for it.

    Like (4)
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  • Laura
    09/02/2017
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    Trump has not been right about anything. I look forward to the day when he and his entire inept and corrupt administration are run out of DC on a rail. Too bad we don't tar and feather anymore. So much incompetence in so little time. The US is now the laughingstock of the world.

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