As Trump Administration’s Sabotage Contributes to Decline in Health Care Coverage, Shaheen Moves to Protect Funding for Open Enrollment Awareness and Assistance
From 2016 to 2019, Enrollment in the Health Care Marketplace in NH Was Down 19 Percent
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019 to counteract Trump administration sabotage efforts that have diverted funds and slashed health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent since the President took office. The MORE Health Education Act would ensure that the Trump administration fully funds outreach, marketing and education efforts to promote health insurance coverage offered on the federal Health Insurance Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) are original cosponsors of the bill.
“The public shouldn’t be kept in the dark about their health care options, but that’s exactly what the Trump administration has attempted to do by diverting these health insurance marketing and outreach resources,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation would restore these important awareness campaigns regarding open enrollment so that the public can shop for health care plans and make informed choices.”
“The Trump Administration’s constant efforts to sabotage our health care system undermines access to quality, affordable coverage for millions of Americans, including those with preexisting conditions,” said Senator Peters. “This legislation would help Michiganders learn more about available plans and enrollment deadlines so they can choose the best health care plans for themselves and their families.”
“In another attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration in recent years has slashed funding that encourages people to sign up for plans on the federal marketplaces,” said Senator Kaine. “This bill is an effort to restore funding for marketing and outreach efforts to ensure consumers have the information they need to enroll in high-quality health plans and access financial assistance.”
For the 2018 Open Enrollment Period, the Trump administration reduced previous investments set by the Obama administration by 90 percent, from $100 million in 2017 to just $10 million for 2018. In the 2019 Open Enrollment Period, the Trump administration once again only spent $10 million on marketing and outreach for the Health Insurance Marketplaces, despite $100 million available for this purpose. These resources are critical to securing enrollment from a broad array of individuals, including young and healthy patients who are critical to keeping premiums affordable. In total, enrollment between 2016 and 2019 in the federally-run Marketplaces fell by 12 percent, and dropped by 19 percent on New Hampshire’s Marketplace during the same period. Starting this year, more short-term, limited duration health insurance plans – also known as “junk plans” – will be available on the market, which risk confusing customers who would otherwise purchase Marketplace plans that meet the ACA’s coverage and patient protection standards. As a result of the growth of junk plans, the need for increased education for Marketplace plans is greater than ever.
Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. Just today, Senator Shaheen helped introduce the Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act of 2019, which would require the administration to rescind its guidance that allows states to opt out of adhering to requirements of the ACA that ensure health plans include essential patient protections, including coverage of pre-existing conditions. Rescinding this guidance would also prevent the Trump administration from allowing the ACA’s premium tax credits to be used for the purchase of junk plans. Shaheen sent a letter with a group of Senators in December to Trump administration officials, calling on the administration to stop pushing health insurance plans that weaken pre-existing condition protections.
The MORE Health Education Act can be read here.