The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday that it is ending most grants for grassroots organizations that assist Americans signing up for Affordable Care Act insurance.
Last summer, aid was reduced by 41 percent to $36.8 million, and this new reduction lowers the amount of money going to these groups, called navigators, to $10 million for the enrollment period starting in November. The Trump administration is now urging navigators to also steer people toward health plans that work around ACA's consumer protections. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called these non-ACA plans "junk" that let insurance companies "deny care on a whim and charge whatever they want," which is "nothing but a scam."
CMS said the grants are ineffective because the federal insurance exchange "has grown in visibility" and "become more familiar to Americans seeking health insurance." Since Republican lawmakers haven't been able to pass any legislation to dismantle the law, this is seen by many as another move by the Trump administration to weaken the Affordable Care Act. "They're just strangling the program," Catherine Edwards, executive director of the Missouri Association of Area Agencies on Aging, told The Washington Post. "They couldn't kill the program in Congress, so they are cutting the money." Catherine Garcia