The cut in programs promoting health care is one of the decisions judged as “stern” which Trump has made in his short stay in the office thus far. In a call with reporters, Health and Human Services officials say there will be a cut in advertising to the tune of $10 million for the 2018 open enrollment season. There will also be a cut for consumer helpers known as “navigators” from $62.5 million for 2017 to about $36 million for 2018. This decision is one of the many decisions made by the Trump administration which might lower health law enrollment. Customer advocates are already expressing concerns at how these cascading decisions will significantly depress enrollment.
The decision has attracted mixed views. One of the people to comment on the decision by the Trump administration is the former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Andy Slavitt, who served under the Obama administration. His statement reads:
“These aren’t budget decisions these are all funds that come out of user fees paid by the insurance companies. This wouldn’t cost the federal government a nickel. It’s hard to interpret this as anything other than being done out of spite.”
According to officials who spoke on the conditions of anonymity, the funding cut was necessitated by “diminishing returns” from advertising and the number of first-time enrolees fell by 42 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year. Also, they claim many navigator groups failed to meet their enrollment targets last year despite receiving a huge amount of federal funds.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader had a different opinion from the anonymous officials. He said:
“The Trump administration is deliberately attempting to sabotage our health care system. When the number of people with health insurance declines and costs skyrocket, the American people will know who’s to blame.”
Source: New York Times
Compared to the $111.5 million that California alone is planning to spend on health law advertising, the $10 million proposed by the Trump administration can be considered a joke. A report states that the decline in health law enrollment occurred late in January this year when the Trump administration cancelled $5 million in advertising soon after ascending into office.
One question of paramount importance that the officials failed to answer was whether they carried out a study to determine the effect of advertising or public awareness on enrollment. It should be noted that the Trump administration had earlier made attempts to repeal Obamacare. When this failed, it would seem that an alternative plan of attack was necessary.
The Trump administration has incessantly attacked the legislation, insisting it was failing and that the tax market was collapsing. However, I tend to agree with officials who think it is a gross waste of time spending a huge amount of money on television ad promotion when virtually every American is aware of it. However, it is vital to conduct a study to determine the relationship between the two variables. A cheaper alternative that would save the nation a huge cost will be a welcome development.