Trump administration slashes grants to help Americans get Affordable Care Act coverage

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But here too the insurers have threatened higher premiums, even as the insurers pocket tax-credit subsidies that increase with premiums. Sign up today to get healthcare news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

One of the great ironies of the Affordable Care Act is that progressives wanted to stick it to the insurers and instead have enriched them with new business. Agents and brokers assisted 42 percent of FFE enrollees, costing the exchanges about $2.40 per enrollee to provide technical support and assistance.

Frank Pallone called the cuts more "sabotage" from the administration. More will lose their insurance this year with this latest attack on the ACA.

The president last fall also issued an executive order to try to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy health plans that cost less than ACA coverage because they cover fewer medical services and bypass the law's rules meant to protect people from old insurance practices in which companies had charged higher prices to women, older people, and those with preexisting medical conditions.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma says the navigators just aren't cost effective. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service said Saturday it was halting the payments due to a judge's ruling. "It is not the bailiwick of community organizations" that are expressly forbidden under the navigator program's rules to recommend any particular health plans. Known as the risk adjustment program, it allocates insurance premium dollars to plans that enrolled higher risk and less healthy members from plans that enrolled lower risk and healthier members.

Navigators applying for funding will also be encouraged to show how they will educate people about the newly expanded alternatives to Obamacare, such as association health plans and short-term plans. The announcement comes in the midst of the annual rate-filing period when insurers announce their estimated premium prices and plans for coverage to state regulators.

The Trump White House has been busy separating migrant families and plotting the demise of Roe v. Wade in recent weeks, but don't worry: they haven't forgotten about their quest to make it harder for Americans to obtain adequate health insurance.

A federal court ruling in New Mexico found the administration did not properly justify its formula for dispensing the funds. The other two methods were temporary, but risk adjustment is permanent. The Republican Congress failed to repeal it, so the Trump administration has redoubled its efforts to gut it.

Jeffrey Loo, an analyst at CFRA Research, said health insurers are preparing 2019 rates "and this suspension adds financial uncertainty".

Whatever happens with the risk adjustment payments, it looks as if many exchange consumers will be left to figure out their options for 2019 on their own. Small insurers often complain about risk adjustment payments because they end up paying their larger competitors, who tend to have the sickest patients.

Not only is the administration gutting the program, it's making them help people enroll in the plans Trump has concocted that don't comply with the consumer protection standards and other requirements of the law.