February 13, 2019

Kaine, Shaheen Move To Protect Funding For Open Enrollment Awareness And Assistance As Trump Administration’s Sabotage Contributes To Decline In Health Care Coverage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Gary Peters to introduce the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019 to counteract Trump administration sabotage efforts that have diverted funds and slashed health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent since the President took office. The MORE Health Education Act would ensure that the Trump administration fully funds outreach, marketing and education efforts to promote health insurance coverage offered on the federal Health Insurance Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“In another attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration in recent years has slashed funding that encourages people to sign up for plans on the federal marketplaces,” said Kaine. “This bill is an effort to restore funding for marketing and outreach efforts to ensure consumers have the information they need to enroll in high-quality health plans and access financial assistance.”

“The public shouldn’t be kept in the dark about their health care options, but that’s exactly what the Trump administration has attempted to do by diverting these health insurance marketing and outreach resources,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would restore these important awareness campaigns regarding open enrollment so that the public can shop for health care plans and make informed choices.”

“The Trump Administration’s constant efforts to sabotage our health care system undermines access to quality, affordable coverage for millions of Americans, including those with preexisting conditions,” said Peters. “This legislation would help Michiganders learn more about available plans and enrollment deadlines so they can choose the best health care plans for themselves and their families.”

For the 2018 Open Enrollment Period, the Trump administration reduced previous investments set by the Obama administration by 90 percent, from $100 million in 2017 to just $10 million for 2018. In the 2019 Open Enrollment Period, the Trump administration once again only spent $10 million on marketing and outreach for the Health Insurance Marketplaces, despite $100 million available for this purpose. These resources are critical to securing enrollment from a broad array of individuals, including young and healthy patients who are critical to keeping premiums affordable. In total, enrollment between 2016 and 2019 in the federally-run Marketplaces fell by 12 percent, and dropped by 19 percent on New Hampshire’s Marketplace during the same period. Starting this year, more short-term, limited duration health insurance plans – also known as “junk plans” – will be available on the market, which risk confusing customers who would otherwise purchase Marketplace plans that meet the ACA’s coverage and patient protection standards. As a result of the growth of junk plans, the need for increased education for Marketplace plans is greater than ever.

The MORE Health Education Act can be read here.