Last week, the campaign took another alarming step when the administration halted payments to insurers under the ACA's risk-adjustment program. This week, as the New York Times reported, Team Trump went a little further.
The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it was slashing grants to nonprofit organizations that help people obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the latest step in an escalating attack on the law that threatens to destabilize its insurance markets. [...]The administration is not only cutting grants to navigators, but fundamentally changing their mission. They will, for the first time, help people enroll in health insurance plans that do not comply with the consumer protection standards and other requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
The idea behind the navigator program is pretty straightforward: the Affordable Care Act funds in-person assistance for consumers who need a hand purchasing health insurance. The point, obviously, is to help people navigate a system that can be complicated, especially for those buying coverage for the first time, so officials extend grants to organizations to meet the public need.
The Trump administration, lacking in subtlety, has targeted the program, cutting its investment from $63 million to $36 million last year, and from $36 million to $10 million this year.
The fact that navigators will be encouraged to direct consumers toward worse coverage plans only adds insult to injury.
Lori Lodes, a former CMS official from the Obama administration and founder of the organization Get Covered America, told the HuffPost, "Requiring navigators to sell junk plans is the same as requiring doctors to offer snake oil -- the whole notion is outrageous."
As far as Donald Trump is concerned, "Obamacare" is "gone" and "dead," but since reality suggests otherwise, the administration appears to be taking new steps to sabotage the system in order to push the ACA closer to the president's goal.