Funding Chopped Again for ACA Navigators
The Trump Administration last week announced that it is cutting federal funding for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) navigators – those charged with assisting consumers within health insurance exchanges – by over 70%, from $36 million to $10 million annually. This comes a year after the administration cut funding by 40% from the $63 million initially budgeted by President Obama.
In its announcement, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) noted that during the plan year 2018 open enrollment period, navigators enrolled less than 1% of the entire federally facilitated exchange (FFE) population. It continued:
By contrast, agents and brokers assisted with 42 percent of FFE enrollment for plan year 2018, which cost the FFE only $2.40 per enrollee to provide training and technical assistance. To save federal dollars and provide more tailored opportunities for consumers to shop for coverage, CMS continues to expand options for individuals to enroll through the private sector, including online and in-person agents and brokers as well as enrolling directly with health insurers.
Since the inception of the ACA, IA&B has expressed concerns with the navigator program and advocated for a licensing framework and limited role for navigators who often lack meaningful insurance knowledge but perform sensitive duties similar to those with producer licenses.