OIG will investigate Trump administration decision to end ACA marketing campaign
HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson informed Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) in a letter dated March 23 that his office would review a decision to end halt outreach efforts aimed at insurance exchange enrollment.
The Senators had requested the investigation in January, claiming that the abrupt end to outreach efforts would threaten to increase insurance prices by limiting overall enrollment.
- Enrollment in insurance exchanges declined to 12.2 million in 2017 from 12.7 million in 2016, although the Obama administration estimated 13.8 million would sign up before the Trump administration ended outreach efforts early.
Democrats criticized the decision to pull advertising and outreach in the final days of open enrollment for 2017 as an early act to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while Republicans eyed repeal and replace of the plan. But as those efforts came to an abrupt halt Friday, supporters of the act are watching for signs that President Donald Trump's administration may continue to work against the ACA's intentions.
Warren and Murray said when requesting the investigation that the move by the White House "threatens to increase insurance prices for the individuals who will sign up for ACA coverage on the exchanges in 2018 and beyond." The advertising was stopped in the final days of open enrollment, which historically are the busiest.
Levinson said in his letter the OIG investigation would "include the timeline, decision-making process and factors considered by HHS, including any HHS analyses of implications for enrollment and/or expected costs or savings."
While Trump has been hostile to the ACA since even before he was on the campaign trail, it is not clear whether his administration is actively trying to sabotage insurance exchanges established by the 2010 health law.
Trump has stated with confidence more than once that the ACA will fall under its own weight. “The best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode,” he said after the American Health Care Act was pulled from the House floor before a scheduled vote late last week. This was followed by a Tweet expressing a similar statement.
For payers to continue participating in insurance exchanges, the Trump administration will need to take action to ensure their viability. This could include fighting a lawsuit launched by Congressional Republicans over the legality of subsidies paid to insurers to help cover lower-income individuals. It could also mean engaging in outreach to encourage relatively young and healthy patients to purchase insurance, which would help offset the cost of relatively older and sicker patients.
- Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General Letter to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray
- Elizabeth Warren U.S. Senator for Massachusetts Senators ask Inspector General to investigate HHS suspension of Affordable Care Act outreach efforts at enrollment deadline
- Healthcare Dive ACA enrollment for 2017 down slightly at 12.2M
- The White House Remarks by President Trump on the Health Care Bill