Federally Funded Obamacare Ads to Face Budget Cuts
- After the Donald Trump administration failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act—popularly known as Obamacare— it seems like they may have found another way to slowly kill the program.
The Trump administration is now planning to slash funding to the Obamacare advertising budget. The ads are used to attract Americans to sign up for the government-sponsored health insurance. According to the Trump administration, advertising for the program is useless, although the government has not formally studied the issue.
The administration is proposing to slash spending on promotional advertising by a whopping 90%. The Department of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) is planning to spend just $10.0 million this year on advertising through print and digital avenues during the open-enrollment period later this year.
Since Obamacare started, enrollment has opened for 45 days near the end of each year, allowing Americans to sign up for health insurance. To join the program for 2018, the open-enrollment period is between November 1 and December 15, 2017.
In addition to cutting spending on advertising, the administration will also cut its financial grants to groups that help Americans understand the Obamacare system and find them the right healthcare insurance plan. Those assistants are often called “navigators.” The Trump administration is cutting funding to these navigators by 39%, from the $62.5 million in grants that were given last year.
While conservatives are welcoming the budget cuts, others are unhappy.“Everybody that’s going to sign up on the exchanges has already signed up,” said Joe Antos of the American Enterprise Institute.
Some fear that cutting the advertising will result in fewer sign-ups in the coming enrollment period. “There’s no doubt that cuts to outreach and advertising will result in more people uninsured,” said Larry Levitt, of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Chances are that, with less advertising, fewer healthier Americans will sign up for medical insurance. Consequently, those who contribute to the insurance money pool may end up constituting a greater number of sicker Americans. This may cause the pool to become depleted and insurance premiums to shoot up, forcing Americans to bear higher healthcare costs.
Rising medical costs are a major concern in the United States, since they remain a primary cause of personal bankruptcies in the country.
“Trump Guts Budget for Obamacare Ads,” Bloomberg, August 31, 2017.