- In the wake of a major cut to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) advertising budget, a coalition of the law’s supporters is planning to orchestrate their own campaign promoting the upcoming open enrollment period, Axios reported.
- The ACA exchange markets continue to fluctuate. Anthem has said it is furthering efforts to pull back its participation in the exchanges and will exit 17 of the 85 counties it covers in Missouri.
- As Anthem and other payers point to uncertainty surrounding cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments as the reason they are worried about the exchanges, Congress has planned hearings for this week on methods for stabilizing these markets.
President Donald Trump’s administration is weakening the ACA both through its actions and its inactions. Last week, HHS announced it is cutting the law’s advertising budget by 90% to $10 million. It has also pulled back funding for local navigators who help people sign up for insurance under the ACA.
This could be a major blow to enrollment numbers. Community outreach was a key method for raising awareness of the law and the ways it could help people obtain coverage for the HHS under President Barack Obama. The group aiming to offset the latest HHS cuts hasn't been formally announced, but Axios reports it will involve celebrities, experienced marketers and a broad coalition. Open enrollment starts Nov. 1.
Meanwhile, Congress is trying to find time in its packed schedule to pass legislation appropriating money for the CSR payments. Trump has declined to say whether he plans to continue the payments, but has quietly made them every month thus far. Dedicating funding for the CSRs has bipartisan support in Congress, but passage of a bill is far from assured. Lawmakers have other pressing issues to address, including disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey victims, the debt ceiling and continued funding to keep the government running.
Payers will continue to hope for action, as their deadline for deciding whether to participate in the exchanges is at the end of this month. Early rate filings have already shown the uncertainty is leading to premium hikes.