ACA-enrollment has dropped each year of the Trump presidency, a trend that’s also been seen in Arizona. The most recent data from Kaiser Family Foundation reports there are 153,020 Arizonans enrolled in marketplace plans. The Trump administration has dramatically cut funding for Navigators tasked with getting the word out about ACA plans. For example, in 2016, Arizona was granted $1.6 million for such efforts, while in 2019 it received just $600,000.
Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded $10 million in Navigator grants to 30 returning organizations, matching the annual level of funding that was awarded over the last two years. Each year, CMS awards Navigator Cooperative Agreement grants to organizations that serve as Navigators in Federally-facilitated Exchange states.
Navigators offer assistance to consumers shopping for and enrolling in health coverage on the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. They also provide outreach and education to raise awareness about ACA plan benefits and costs. Navigators are a part of a wide array of options for consumers seeking assistance with enrolling in health coverage, including the Exchange Call Center, Certified Application Counselors, and agents and brokers that can help consumers.
According to a US Census Bureau report released last year, Arizona was among eight states that saw a “statistically significant” increase in its uninsured rate from 2017 to 2018. The state’s figure now stands at 10.6%, nearly two points above the national average. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has emphasized the importance of Navigators and outreach, as many people don’t realize the assistance for which they’re eligible.
The 2019 Navigator awards were made for a 24-month period of performance, funded in two 12-month increments known as budget periods. The grants awarded today are for the second 12-month budget period. The 2021 Open Enrollment Period for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange is November 1, 2020 to December 15, 2020.
Read the press release from CMS.gov