Trump cuts to Obamacare's ads threaten law's fragile markets

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President Obama set up the navigator program to help people understand their options on web-based insurance markets established by his signature overhaul, yet the Trump administration says almost 100 nonprofits, health centers and other in-person assistants are tapping federal coffers will little accountability.

GOP lawmakers have been unable to fulfill Trump's campaign promise to repeal and replace the ACA established under President Obama. In addition, they said that many navigator groups failed to meet their enrollment targets past year, despite sometimes receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds.

The move is likely to translate into reduced marketing and fewer navigators - trained representatives deployed by nonprofit groups that receive federal grants to help people understand health insurance options and purchase a plan.

The law does require a navigator program to help facilitate exchange enrollment, but Trump's HHS is limiting those efforts, which the agency called "ineffective". Money for the Navigators - which comes from fees paid by insurers - amounted to $62.5 million last year; the administration expects to spend $36.8 million this year, The Hill said.

His administration matched its harsh words with damaging action on Thursday - slashing millions of dollars from the government's budget to promote the health law's annual open enrollment season beginning in two months. For next year, all USA counties will have at least one participating insurer, though consumers in nearly half of all counties will only have a single carrier serving them.

"Under the Trump Administration, we're committed to more responsible, effective government", Oakley said. For example, if a navigator program met 70 percent of its enrollment target, it will get 70 percent of its previous funding.

This year, the official said, HHS "had not set any numerical goals for sign-ups".

States that run their own marketplaces are not included in the navigation program.

As a result, spending on the navigator program is slated to fall by roughly 40 percent - from about $63 million this year to $37 million.

President Donald Trump has slashed the Obamacare advertising budget from $100m to $10m ahead of the upcoming Obamacare open enrollment.

Information for this article was contributed by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of The Associated Press; by Zachary Tracer, Anna Edney and Hannah Recht of Bloomberg News; and by Andy Davis of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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