Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Tuesday that insurance navigators who help Americans sign up for ACA plans will only receive $10 million for the 2019 open enrollment season.
This is the second cut in the last two years, down more than $26 million from the previous year. Navigators also took a cut last August from $62.5 million. Trump officials justified the more than 80 percent reduction by saying navigators failed to enroll enough people to warrant more spending on the program.
During the 2018 open enrollment period, navigators enrolled less than one-percent of the entire Federally-facilitated Exchange (FFE) enrollment population, according to CMS. The cost per enrollee for navigators is $5,000 versus the $2.40 per enrollee signed up by agents and brokers assisting enrollment.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a press release, “it’s time for the Navigator program to evolve, which is why we are announcing a new direction for the program today. This decision reflects CMS’ commitment to put federal dollars for the Federally-facilitated Exchanges to their most cost effective use in order to better support consumers through the enrollment process.”
The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) includes an additional requirement that funding for the Navigator Program will be based on previous year’s performance, which CMS states is to ensure accountability in the program and “avoid rewarding grantees that have failed to meet performance measures.”
Since 2013 navigators have been helping applicants enroll in plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump administration is now encouraging navigators to make enrollees aware of other options.
CMS said in a statement on Tuesday, “applicants will also be encouraged to demonstrate how they provide information to people who may be unaware of the range of available coverage options in addition to qualified health plans, such as association health plans, short-term, limited-duration insurance and health reimbursement arrangements.”
For the press release, visit CMS.
Read the original Reuters article here,
And check out the NY Times article here.