Trump administration cuts funding for health care sign-ups

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Activists hold signs during a Stop 'Trumpcare' rally May 4, 2017 in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC.

The Trump administration is announcing sharp cuts in programs promoting health care enrollment under the Affordable Care Act for next year.

In a call with reporters, Health and Human Services officials say advertising will be cut to $10 million for the 2018 open enrollment season. That’s down from $100 million for the 2017 sign-up season.

Funding for consumer helpers called “navigators” will also be cut, from $62.5 million for 2017, to about $36 million for next year.

Andy Slavitt, former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator under the Obama administration, said that the Trump administration’s decision to cut funding for navigators will hit hardest in poor, rural communities where insurers may not fill in the gap on outreach.

“These aren’t budget decisions … these are all funds that come out of user fees paid by the insurance companies. This wouldn’t cost the federal government a nickel,” said Slavitt. “They’re basically not going to not us the user fees … it’s hard to interpret this as anything other than being done out of spite.”

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