President Donald Trump has taken a bold step to wreck the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.
According to Politico’s Paul Demko, the new administration has pulled all advertisements for Healthcare.gov and has frozen efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to encourage people to sign up for plans through the ACA.
The pulling of ads includes those that have already been paid for and placed, according to Politico. For the 2015-2016 open enrollment period, HHS spent around $35 million on ads encouraging people to sign up.
Americans with health insurance through their employer or Medicare or Medicaid can sign up for plans through the ACA’s public exchanges through January 31 for a 2017 plan.
Typically, the run-up to deadlines is accompanied by a significant uptick in sign ups. As Politico reported, this is especially true for young people, who are needed to balance the risk in the individual market pools.
Trump has maintained the law would “collapse on its own.” But according to CBO projections, the number of people enrolled will continue to increase and eventually stabilise, not go into the “death spiral” as Republicans predicted.
The end of the open enrollment period is crucial because the share of total enrollees that are age 18-34 increases substantially during that time.
This is important because the pools have been filled with too many older and sicker people in certain states over the past few years, causing many large insurers to lose money on the exchanges.
In turn, insurers leaving the exchanges and exacerbated cost increases. While there are some states that have mitigated these issues by expanding Medicaid and other provisions, it is crucial for the stability of some states’ to get young people to sign up.
According to a report from The Huffington Post, an HHS official said the pulled ad buy was worth around $5 million.
The push to sign up young people was important to try to correct course, but it appears the move by Trump’s administration could hamstring that effort.
Thus with fewer young people in the exchanges this year, the problems that GOP lawmakers have predicted would happen might come to pass.
It is unclear just how much the scaling back as impacted the law so far because the HHS under Trump has also scaled back on any communication about Obamacare.
The HHS Twitter account has not referenced the ACA deadline — after tweeting about it multiple times a day — since a tweet on January 19, the day before Trump’s inauguration.
It is unclear how many Americans have signed up for care since the department has halted communications and not issued their typically bi-weekly enrollment update since the Trump administration took office. The last update on January 10 pegged enrollments through the ACA’s provisions at 11.54 million.
Former director of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andy Slavitt, whose department of the HHS oversaw the ACA exchanges, tweeted his displeasure with the move, saying it was “misguided actions which purposely hurt ACA consumers.”
Trump has long been opposed to the ACA, calling it a “disaster” and promising to repeal and replace it.
Republican lawmakers kicked off the repeal of the law by advancing a budget resolution through the House and Senate that directs committees to draft a replacement bill using the budget reconciliation process.
NEW: very misguided actions which purposely hurt ACA consumers & cost insurance companies money. Disappointing.https://t.co/qG239eigXc pic.twitter.com/C4zZS5u40E
— Andy Slavitt (@ASlavitt) January 27, 2017
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