Democrats Demand Trump Administration Detail Open Enrollment Plan for ACA
Today, the Ranking Members of the congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma raising concerns over the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Marketplaces and requesting a briefing on the Administration’s preparation for the upcoming Open Enrollment season that begins November 1st, including its plans for consumer outreach.
The letter was signed by House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), House Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senate Aging Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA).
“Rather than encouraging enrollment in the Marketplaces, the Administration appears intent on depressing it, which we fear will contribute to destabilizing insurance markets and drive up costs for consumers,” the Ranking Members wrote to Secretary Price and Administrator Verma.
“Given the substantial uncertainty resulting from efforts to jam the Republican bill through Congress and the resulting consumer confusion, as well as the Administration’s decision to cut the Open Enrollment period in half, it is critically important that HHS redouble its efforts to ensure that individuals are aware of their enrollment options and eligibility for financial assistance in a timely manner,” the Ranking Members continued. “Additionally, technological issues and call center capacity should not be a limiting factor as individuals seek to sign up for coverage.”
According to recent press reports, the Trump Administration appears to be preparing to sabotage the upcoming Open Enrollment season by limiting the enrollment period, significantly scaling back call centers to assist consumers in obtaining health insurance, erroneously notifying customers that their coverage could be discontinued, and canceling contracts that provide in-person assistance to consumers looking to sign up for coverage. The Ranking Members also raise concerns in their letter about reports that the Administration may eliminate outreach to chronically underserved populations such as Latinos and African Americans.
To better understand the Trump Administration’s preparation for the upcoming 2018 Open Enrollment period, the members are requesting a briefing on a series of questions, including:
- Please provide an itemized list of all planned expenditures related to advertising, marketing, communications and outreach;
- Does the Administration plan to operate call centers that assist consumers with questions open for the 2018 Open Enrollment season?
- Does the Administration intend to continue to award Navigator grants to provide high quality impartial assistance to consumers to understand coverage options and financial assistance available at HealthCare.gov? If not, please explain why.
- Does the Administration intend to continue to conduct targeted outreach in communities that have historically been disproportionately uninsured, such as the Latino and African-American communities?
- Why were a number of HealthCare.gov consumers erroneously notified that their coverage would be discontinued, as reported in Politico? How many consumers were affected by this problem?
Full text of the Members' letter is available here.