It appears as though President Trump has just given the Democrats yet another reason to shift the blame for Obamacare's epic failure to his administration, as ridiculous as that may be. According to The Hill, the Department of Health and Human Services has just announced that they'll be slashing the Obamacare advertising budget by 90% for the 2018 plan year, from $100 million down to $10mm.
Department of Health and Human Services officials said on a call with reporters that funding for advertising and other outreach for ObamaCare enrollment will be cut from $100 million last year to $10 million this year.
An HHS official argued the administration is seeing "diminishing returns" from ObamaCare spending.
The administration will still be spending some money on signing people up for the law, despite its opposition to ObamaCare.
Officials also announced they are cutting funding for "navigators," which are outside organizations that help sign people up. Funding will be proportional to how navigators have fared in hitting their enrollment target the previous year. If a group signed up 70 percent of their target, they will get 70 percent of the funding.
Of course, what this really means is that when enrollments start to decline, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will have the perfect excuse lined up for immediate distribution via their own personal propaganda machines, CNN, MSNBC, etc., as to why this is all Trump's fault.
And, right on cue, Schumer has just released the following statement:
Sen. Schumer: "The Trump administration is deliberately attempting to sabotage our health care system." pic.twitter.com/YjTOqOYQ9J— Liam Martin (@LiamWBZ) August 31, 2017
You know, because prices surging by 30% every single year couldn't possibly have any impact on demand, right?
But, lest you forget, Nancy and Chuck have that angle covered too. You see, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out recently, 2018 Obamacare price increases are also Trump's fault because his threats to remove the individual mandate and/or cut federal subsidies have thoroughly confused the insurance companies and forced them to raise rates.
Major health insurers in some states are seeking increases as high as 30% or more for premiums on 2018 Affordable Care Act plans, according to new federal data that provide the broadest view so far of the turmoil across exchanges as companies try to anticipate Trump administration policies.
Insurers are also concerned about whether the Trump administration will enforce the requirement for most people to have insurance coverage, which industry officials say helps hold down rates by prodding young, healthy people to sign up for plans.
In Montana, Health Care Service linked 17 percentage points of its 23% rate increase request to concerns about the cost-sharing payments and enforcement of the mandate that requires everyone to purchase insurance. Kurt Kossen, a senior vice president at Health Care Service, said the company’s rate requests are driven by causes including growing health costs and “uncertainty and the associated risks that exist within this marketplace, including uncertainty around issues like the continued funding of [cost-sharing payments] and mechanisms that encourage broad and continuous coverage.”
The impact of potentially losing the cost-sharing payments was also clear in the rates requested by Blue Cross of Idaho, which average 28%. That would probably be in the lower teens if the payments were guaranteed, said Dave Jeppesen, a senior vice president. “It’s a big swing,” he said. “There’s a lot of risk associated with the uncertainty in Congress right now, and we are pricing appropriately for that risk.”
Of course, as we've noted multiple times over the past couple of years, Obamacare premium increases are hardly a new phenomenon. In fact, data from the Department of Health and Human Services recently revealed that premiums across the country soared an average of 113% over the past 4 years, or nearly 30% per year. Ironically, that 30% is the same hike that many insurers are seeking for 2018...some folks would call that a trend.
But, other folks don't believe in things like math and adverse selection bias that results in deteriorating risk pools and higher costs for insurers...no, they prefer simple, provocative narratives that can be exploited for political gain while masking the real underlying problems of a failed policy that is ruining healthcare for millions of hard working Americans.