KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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With Their Budget Slashed, These ACA Navigators Are Starting To Think Outside The Box

"I'm talking about going to Friday night football games," says Sharon Barker, a certified navigator, who thinks small local efforts are going to be needed since they won't be able to rely on national TV ads. Meanwhile, Democrats are asking President Donald Trump to rethink the decision to cut the funding for the program.

Nashville Tennessean: Tennessee Health Insurance: Obamacare Navigators Go Grassroots For ACA Signups
The people who put together Tennessee's open enrollment events and power the state's hotline are devising a last minute, grassroots strategy to let people know when and how they can buy individual health insurance. The final six weeks before enrollment kicks off on Nov. 1 will be frantic for navigators, the people certified to help. The Affordable Care Act didn't get repealed but a last minute funding decision by the Trump administration is altering plans that were nearly cemented. (Fletcher, 9/12)

The Hill: House Dems Press Trump To Fund ObamaCare Outreach Groups
A group of Democratic lawmakers are calling on the Trump administration to pay millions of dollars to outside groups that help people sign up for ObamaCare. The letter from 31 House Democrats, led by Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), pressed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to release funding for navigator groups, which also help with ObamaCare education and outreach. (Weixel, 9/12)

In other marketplace news —

Reuters: Anthem Still Considering Presence In Some Obamacare Markets: CEO
Anthem Inc, which has trimmed the number of states and counties in which it will sell individual Obamacare plans in 2018, said on Tuesday it is still working with some state regulators on its market participation for next year. Anthem and other insurers have a deadline of Sept. 27 to finalize their 2018 role in the individual insurance program created as part of former President Barack Obama's national healthcare law, often called Obamacare. Anthem is the No. 2 U.S. health insurer. (Humer, 9/12)

Chicago Sun Times: Blue Cross Leaving Illinois Obamacare Exchange For Small Businesses
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois will no longer offer group plans for small businesses through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, the company announced this week. ...When Obamacare went into effect, the federal government predicted that 4 million people would be covered through its Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. It hit less than 6 percent of that goal. As of January 2017, just 27,000 employers nationwide had SHOP plans covering about 230,000 people, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. (Armentrout, 9/12)

Arizona Republic: Trump's 'Obamacare' Budget Cuts Leave Arizona's ACA Workers In Limbo
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cut funding by more than 40 percent this fiscal year for counselors, or "navigators," who provide in-person enrollment help to those signing up for the Affordable Care Act — or "Obamacare" — insurance and Medicaid for low-income and disabled residents. The funding cuts mean two Arizona entities that received navigator grants — the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers (AACHC) and the University of Arizona — don't knowif, or how much, they'll receive to pay for these positions during the coming enrollment period. (Alltucker, 9/12)

Des Moines Register: Iowa 'Stopgap' Health-Insurance Proposal's Chances May Be Dimming
Iowa’s insurance commissioner told legislators Tuesday he’s become “a lot less optimistic” about the prospects of his plan to shore up the state’s individual health-insurance market, because he still hasn’t received approval from federal officials. Commissioner Doug Ommen said he had hoped to hear by now whether federal administrators would go along with his "stopgap" proposal. As things stand, the only carrier planning to offer individual health insurance in Iowa for 2018 plans to raise premiums by nearly 58 percent. Some consumers could see their premiums more than double. (Leys, 9/12)

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