Navigator programs, which provide outreach, education, and enrollment assistance to consumers eligible for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace and Medicaid, learned on August 31, 2017, about a 40% CMS spending cut on the program, with a wide disparity in funding cuts per state.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has released results from an online survey of Navigator programs, outlining changes that the programs expect to make in light of CMS’ recently announced cuts to funding.
Navigator programs, which provide outreach, education, and enrollment assistance to consumers eligible for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace and Medicaid, learned on August 31, 2017, about a 40% CMS spending cut on the program, with a wide disparity in funding cuts per state—reductions in funding ranged from 0% (Delaware, Kansas, and West Virginia) to 80% or more (Louisiana, Indiana, and Nebraska).
All Navigator programs were contacted about the survey, conducted between September 22, 2017, and October 4, 2017, and 51% of programs responded. The survey found that rationales for cuts to Navigator budgets were neither well explained nor aligned with performance:
The survey also found the following with respect to likely outcomes of the budget cuts:
The report’s authors highlight the fact that the administration’s decision to reduce funding to Navigators comes at the same time as insurers are exiting the ACA marketplace, as well as at a moment of uncertainty as to whether the federal government will continue to fund cost-sharing reduction payments. “This confusion, coupled with a shortened open enrollment period, increases demand for the consumer education and in-person enrollment assistance Navigators provide,” the authors state. “At a time when more help may be needed, the funding reductions are likely to reduce the level of in-person help available to consumers during this fall’s open enrollment and throughout the 2018 coverage year.”
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