OIG will investigate Trump administration decision to end ACA marketing campaign

Dive Brief:

Dive Insight:

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.

Filed Under: Health Law Policy & Regulation
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