The Wall Street Journal: Trump administration slashing budgets for Affordable Care Act ads, outreach programs

The Trump administration is cutting nearly $116 million from outreach programs and ads aimed at getting people signed for the Affordable Care Act during its upcoming open enrollment period, a move likely to cheer ACA opponents but inflame Democrats who fear the administration is undermining the health law.

Health and Human Services officials will spend $10 million for a 45-day enrollment period, starting Nov. 1, on advertising such as emails, texts, radio ads and digital promotions, officials said Thursday. That is a 90% drop from about $100 million the Obama administration spent during the last open enrollment season.

HHS officials said there is no evidence that money boosted enrollment. About 10.3 million people signed up and paid for coverage as of March 2017 on the ACA exchanges, down from 10.8 million in March 2016.

Cuts are also being made in grants to organizations that help consumers understand their ACA coverage and financial aid options. HHS will give $36.8 million in grants for this open enrollment period to such organizations, known as “navigators,” about 40% less than the $62.5 million awarded in 2016.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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