Press Release

Castor, Pallone Want Answers on ACA Navigator Funding

Democrats Concerned Slashing Outreach Funds Will Raise Premiums and Make it More Difficult for Millions of Consumers to Access Health Care

f t # e
Washington, July 19, 2018 | comments
Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Vice Ranking Member Kathy Castor (D-FL) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today demanding answers after the Administration slashed funding for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Navigators program
share: f t

This news release was issued by the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce – Democrats:

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Vice Ranking Member Kathy Castor (D-FL) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma today demanding answers after the Administration slashed funding for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Navigators program.

Last week, the Trump Administration cut funding for Navigators to $10 million—an 84 percent cut in funding from the $63 million awarded to Navigators during the final year of the Obama Administration.

“Given the Administration’s repeated attempts to sabotage the ACA at the expense of consumers across the nation, the practical elimination of Navigators constitutes another costly blow to consumers simply for partisan gain,” Pallone and Castor wrote.  “This latest effort to undermine the ACA ahead of the upcoming 2019 open enrollment period will further contribute to rising premiums and make it more difficult for millions of consumers across the country to access high-quality, affordable health insurance.”

The ACA’s Navigator program supplies critical funding to community nonprofits and health care organizations to provide in-person assistance to consumers during ACA open enrollment.  Navigators conduct public education activities to raise awareness of qualified health plan availability and are responsible for the distribution of “fair and impartial information” on enrollment and financial assistance.

In addition to cutting funds for the program, the Trump Administration is attempting to tie this year’s Navigator funding to the promotion of junk insurance plans that may not cover pre-existing conditions or Essential Health Benefits.

The Democrats are requesting answers by August 2, 2018 to a series of questions and requests, including:

  • Explain how the Department arrived at the $10 million funding level, as well as an explanation of how the Department expects Navigators to fulfill the wide breadth of responsibilities legally required at the $10 million funding level.
  • Explain why the Navigator funding period was reduced from three years – as was the case in the previous grant period – to one year.  Provide all communications pertaining to this decision. 
  • Given that the law stipulates that Navigator responsibilities pertain to Qualified Health Plans, explain why the criteria used to evaluate a Navigator’s grant application for this funding period includes its ability to promote plans that do not satisfy consumer protections required under the ACA.
  • How does the Department intend to use the funds slashed from the Navigator program this year? 
  • How did the Department use the funds diverted from the Navigator program last August? 

The letter is available HERE.

###

 

f t # e