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Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Representing the 3rd District of Ohio

Democrats Fret about Trump’s Cuts to Obamacare Enrollment Programs

Oct 12, 2017
News Articles

WASHINGTON — Ohio’s Democratic congressional delegation says the Trump administration is not doing enough to help citizens enroll in health-care plans under Obamacare.

Reps. Joyce Beatty, D–Jefferson Township, Tim Ryan, D–Niles, Marcy Kaptur, D–Toledo, and Marcia Fudge, D–Cleveland sent a letter Thursday to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma asking her to explain cuts in services and outreach programs aimed at enrolling citizens in health-care plans. The open enrollment period begins Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15.

In the letter, the four argue that the Trump administration’s attempts to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act — commonly known as Obamacare — “have thrown millions of families and individuals into uncertainty weeks before the open enrollment period begins.” The group is also unhappy that the Department of Health and Human Services has shortened the enrollment period from 90 days to 45 days.

Among their other complaints: The department cut the advertising budget leading up to the enrollment period from $100 million to $10 million. The Obama administration has cited the ads as a key way of encouraging enrollment.

The group also is concerned that the Trump administration has cut Obamacare’s “Navigator” program, which pairs those signing up for health coverage with a professional trained to assist them. The budget for that program was reduced by 71 percent, and the lawmakers say the cuts forced the Ohio Association of Foodbanks to leave the program, leaving the state with no navigators and spurring the layoff of 54.

And they’re concerned about reports that — the site where people can sign up for health care — will be offline for all but one Sunday during the 45-day period.

The group wants Verma to explain, among other things, the cuts to the navigator program, how the administration plans to educate people about enrollment and why the agency is conducting maintenance on its website during the enrollment period.

“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,” they wrote. “The foot soldiers in Ohio who have worked for years to help people enroll in marketplace coverage are left without support.

This article was originally published by The Columbus Dispatch on October 12, 2017.