Trump admin to cut 90 percent of ACA advertising budget

By Ray Downs  |  Sept. 1, 2017 at 1:00 AM
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Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The Trump administration announced Thursday that it will cut advertising for the Affordable Care Act by as much as 90 percent, which health experts say could severely impact the healthcare law.

The cuts will bring the total advertising budget down from $100 million in 2017 to $10 million in 2018. They will also reduce spending on "navigators," groups that help customers choose the appropriate insurance plan, from $62.5 million this year to $36 million next year.

"Judging effectiveness by the amount of money spent and not the results achieved is irresponsible and unhelpful to the American people," said Caitlin Oakley, press secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services, according to CNN. "A health care system that has caused premiums to double and left nearly half of our counties with only one coverage option is not working. The Trump administration is determined to serve the American people instead of trying to sell them a bad deal."

Some health experts say that the advertising cuts are aimed at depriving the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare, of obtaining new customers necessary to expand the pool of buyers and continue the program.

"Cutting ACA outreach will result in fewer people insured, and those who fail to sign up will be the healthiest. That will push premiums up," tweeted Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health research group. "For ACA outreach to be successful, it has to be ongoing. Apple doesn't advertise a new iPhone once and then just stop. Because there's so much churn in the individual insurance market, millions of new enrollees have to sign up just to keep enrollment steady."

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his desire to let the ACA weaken until it is no longer sustainable.

"I said from the beginning, 'Let Obamacare implode'" Trump said at a speech in Long Island, N.Y., in July.

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