The Trump administration plans to slash spending on encouraging people to sign up for Obamacare, senior administration health officials said Thursday, making good on the president’s threat to let the law wither after Republicans failed to repeal it earlier this year.
Trump’s Health and Human Services Department will cut spending on promotion of the Affordable Care Act to $10 million for this sign-up seasons, down from $100 million last year, said the HHS officials, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because the changes haven’t yet been made public.
The administration will also reduce payments to groups that help people choose among their health insurance options under the law. Last year, those insurance “navigators” got $62.5 million. Spending on the navigators will be cut by 39 percent this enrollment period, according to the officials.
With the move, President Donald Trump’s administration is following through on his threats to let Obamacare’s markets struggle and potentially collapse. Trump has called the law a failure, and has said the threat of the law’s demise could force Democrats to negotiate a replacement. Earlier this year, Republicans failed to repeal much of the law and replace it with their own, more limited program.
“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” Trump tweeted on July 18, about 10 days before the GOP repeal bill was scrapped after losing a key vote in the Senate.
On Wednesday, a senior administration official indicated that Trump’s team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees many of the federal government’s Obamacare efforts, would be reevaluating much of what the agency was doing surrounding outreach. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because officials weren’t authorized to discuss the matter on the record.
The administration planned to follow the law and implement the programs its required to, the person said. The official said the administration was still working through how or whether to support the law and make it work better.
Health insurance sign-ups under the law are scheduled to start on Nov. 1. This year, there are 12.2 million people enrolled in Obamacare plans through the state- and federal-run insurance markets.
In April, the Trump administration announced changes to shorten the time people have to sign up for coverage, and limit exceptions under the law when people could get coverage outside the normal enrollment periods. Those changes were billed as ways to keep insurers from leaving the program, though they’ve continued to do so, and have substantially raised the premiums they charge in many states.