New changes to Affordable Care Act could hurt enrollment, Levin says

The number of Michiganders without health insurance has hit a historic low, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but ACA advocates are afraid those numbers will rise again as a result of recent policy changes by the Trump Administration.

That includes shortening the open enrollment period for 2018, which will be Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 this fall. Previously, ACA enrollment continued through Jan. 31.

The Trump administration also has slashed federal funds for groups that promote the ACA and help individuals sign up. 

Enroll Michigan has been notified its funding is being cut 90 percent, from $1.2 million in 2016-17 to $129,899 for 2017-18. The organization provides funding for 28 subgrantees.

ACCESS, another organization that helps Michiganders navigate the ACA, received a 36 percent cut, from $555,000 to about $352,000.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, accused the Trump administration of trying to “sabotage” the ACA.

“These cuts will be absolutely devastating for Michiganders who are looking for assistance in enrolling in health insurance. This is just the latest example of the Trump Administration attempting to sabotage the ACA – this time at the particular expense of the health of Michiganders,” Levin’s statement sald.

ACA navigators pay an “essential service,” said Farah Erzouki of ACCESS.

Without navigators “a large number of this underserved population would be left on their own to navigate the complexities of our health care system,” her statement said. 

In 2016, almost 1 million Michiganders obtained insurance through Healthy Michigan, which is the state’s Medicaid expansion, or the federal marketplace for those who don’t qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or insurance through an employer.

About 527,000 Michiganders lacked health insurance in 2016, about 5.4 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s a historic low and about half the number of uninsured before Obamacare went into place in 2014.

Earlier this month, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services said individual plans purchased on the federal marketplace could see steep premium hikes in 2018, in part because the Trump administration has not committed to Cost-Sharing Reduction payments, which subsidize plans for low- and moderate-income households.

Michigan premium in individual marketplace may increase average of 28%

President Trump has called the ACA a “disaster” and has said the government should let the program fail to speed its repeal and replacement.

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