Wide array of groups say HHS has stopped working with them on ACA outreach

As it turns out, Latino groups aren’t the only organizations that say the federal government is no longer partnering with them on Affordable Care Act outreach.

Representatives of multiple organizations say that unlike prior years, they’ve heard nothing from the Trump administration about plans to help promote sign-ups during this year’s open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans, according to a Talking Points Memo article.

These groups include gig economy companies like Lyft, Uber, Doordash and TaskRabbit; youth organizations; churches; women’s groups; African-American groups; and as previously reported, Latino groups.

“It feels like someone has slammed on the brakes and we’re all lurching forward,” Amanda Hooper, the director of engagement and mobilization with the National Women’s Law Center, told the publication. Last year, her group partnered with HHS to create a social media campaign to encourage individuals to enroll in coverage.

Andy Slavitt, the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said he hoped the Trump administration would reconsider its position. Failing to partner with local groups on ACA outreach could lower enrollment and ultimately drive up costs, he said.

HHS did not respond to the publication’s inquiry about its open enrollment outreach plans and the fate of its partnerships with the various groups.

Since President Donald Trump took office, HHS has also shut down an advertising campaign encouraging sign-ups during open enrollment; ended contracts with two companies that helped coordinate open enrollment assistance in 18 cities; and used funds earmarked for advertising the ACA to create videos that criticize it.

At the request of two Senate Democrats, the HHS Office of Inspector General is reviewing the aforementioned decision by the Trump administration to pull ACA advertising.

Now, two Democrats in the House want another watchdog agency—the Government Accountability Office—to investigate whether the ACA’s individual mandate is being properly enforced.

“The Trump administration has sent strong signals about its intent to reduce or even eliminate enforcement of the individual mandate,” New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., and Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal wrote in a letter to the agency. “We believe that these signals are contributing to higher health insurance premiums and increased instability in the marketplaces.”