ACA navigators brace for another round of funding cuts


SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – The Trump Administration is taking aim at the Affordable Care Act once again.

Advocates across the country are bracing for two big changes. A major slash in funding, and a freeze on payments to help insurance companies deal with risk.

At Utah Health Policy Project navigators help Utahns find their way through the process of picking the best health insurance plan for them.

But, federal funds that provide navigators across the country are drying up.

“There are organizations all across the country that are really going to feel this,” said Stacy Stanford with UHPP.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it will provide $10 million for the navigator program this fall.

That’s down from $36 million last year, and $63 million in 2016.

“We’ve been prepared for this. We saw the cuts last year. We figured there’s probably more coming this year, so we’re looking at other sources of funding. Other grants, and foundations and things, so we’re working really hard to cover that gap,” said Stanford.

She says that will allow them to continue providing the same services.

“We’re not going anywhere, we’re not eliminating staff, this isn’t changing the way we operate at all. People can still call 211, visit or come into the office to get the help that they need.”

One thing that is going away, at least for now, is risk adjustment payments.

That money helps stabilize insurance companies that take on high-risk patients.

“We’re not really sure how long this freeze is going to last. And, the result of that is really once again instability. Where insurance companies don’t know what’s coming, they don’t know what’s happening. Therefore, they make it up often times by raising premiums,” Stanford says.

CMS says navigators only produced one-percent of the consumers who signed up to get coverage this year.

Open enrollment for Obamacare starts in November, 2018.

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For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...