Trump Guts Budget for Obamacare Ads

The Trump administration’s plan to slash spending on getting people to sign up for Obamacare will further undermine the law’s already fragile health insurance markets, according to health experts, insurers and people who helped implement the law.

On Thursday, the Health and Human Services department said it would cut the Affordable Care Act’s advertising budget by 90 percent, to $10 million, and would also reduce spending on groups that help customers find the appropriate insurance plan. The administration called the cuts necessary reductions for programs that have run their course and aren’t efficient.

Those who have studied the law or helped run it say otherwise. They say such drastic reductions look like efforts to let the program wither, as Trump has threatened, two months before sign-ups open.

“It seems perfectly appropriate to review outreach efforts and see if they can be done more efficiently, but these cuts are quite large,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health research group. “There’s no doubt that cuts to outreach and advertising will result in more people uninsured.”

Obamcare’s markets, similar to other insurance pools, are designed around the idea that healthy people’s premiums help subsidize the sick. Advertising helps attract those healthy people, said Sarah Gollust, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health who’s studied the effects of marketing the health law.

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