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Op Ed: Trump Walls Off Health Insurance Access for Millions


 

The Trump Administration is building a wall. This wall, however, is to block information about the rights of Tennesseans to affordable health care coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace.

The Administration announced a 90 percent cut in advertising promoting ACA enrollment and then followed with an approximately 40% rollback of the funds provided each year to Navigators, assisters who play a critical role in helping consumers enroll in health care coverage. They gave no budgetary rationale for these unexpected cuts. They waited to make them until the very last minute, maximizing the confusion and disruption they will cause in preparations for the Fall Open Enrollment Period.

Navigators in Tennessee have provided assistance to thousands of health insurance consumers. Over the past four years, Navigators have been instrumental in reducing the number of uninsured Americans to historic lows, including Tennesseans. They provide trusted, one-on-one and in-person support to consumers looking for health insurance. Navigators are there to assist hard-to-reach populations.

This White House action to obstruct access to the ACA Marketplace came only two days after a bipartisan group of governors wrote to the leaders of Congress and the President saying, "The federal government should continue to fund outreach and enrollment efforts that encourage Americans to sign up for insurance." The timing of the action attempts to undermine Senator Lamar Alexander's U.S. Senate HELP Committee effort next week to reach a bipartisan repair of the ACA.

We know from experience that cutting or eliminating paid advertising suppresses enrollment. his year, the Open Enrollment period starting November 1 is a short period ending six weeks later. Millions of eligible Americans could miss the opportunity to apply for or renew coverage.

Richard Henighan, a Sevier County resident and member of the board of directors of the THCC asks, "Does the Trump Administration intend to tell people they are eligible for coverage? Or does it seek to silence all messages that tell Tennesseans what their rights are under the ACA?" Henighan points out that advertising and Navigator programs are the major ways Americans hear of the ACA Marketplace.

A stable marketplace is dependent upon maintaining current enrollment levels and expanding reach to consumers, particularly young and healthy people who will help balance the risk pool.

The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. The Trump administration is responsible for implementing the law and should be doing everything it can to make it easy for Americans to learn about enrollment opportunities and sign up for coverage, but instead they appear intent on making it harder for people to learn about the available options. They should reverse this misguided decision and approve the necessary funding to ensure more Americans can get the help they need enrolling in quality, affordable health care. We urge Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and all the House Members of the Tennessee Delegation, as well as State leaders such as Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) Commissioner Julie McPeak to insist these sabotaging cuts be rescinded.

For confirmation, contact Members of the Tennessee Care Campaign Board of Directors

Richard Henighan, 865.405.7582 (c), rhenighan@igc.org, Seymour, TN

Randall Rice, 731.518.8134 (c), rice934@bellsouth.net, Whiteville, TN

Tony Garr, 615.603.9747 (c), tgarrthcc@gmail.com, Nashville, TN

 
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