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Federal government slashes funding for navigators

Federal government slashes funding for navigators

The federal government plans to cut funding for Illinois groups that help consumers sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a Tuesday statement.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it plans to award up to $10 million for 2019 for the navigator program, with a minimum of $100,000 awarded in each of the 34 states that use Healthcare.gov. It awarded about $36 million nationwide last year.

The federal government has budgeted $400,000 for Illinois navigator organizations, according to the funding announcement.

Last year, CMS awarded $1,792,170 to Illinois navigator organizations, a decline of 31 percent from 2016, according to a brief released by the Kaiser Family Foundation last October.

In a statement, CMS said that navigators did not enroll enough people to “justify the millions of federal dollars spent on the program.” More people know about Healthcare.gov, diminishing the need for the program, the statement noted.

The statement also encouraged applicants for the funding to provide information about plans not sold through the exchange, like association health plans, short-term health plans and health reimbursement arrangements.

Last month, Illinois Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin joined fellow Democrats in calling for the administration to release funding details for navigators, noting the process usually starts in April. In a tweet Tuesday, Durbin classified the funding cut as “another ACA sabotage by Trump Administration.”

Health News Illinois is a nonpartisan, independent news service covering the Illinois healthcare beat. Sign up for a free trial to the newsletter here.

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