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This week CMS released the Final Enrollment Report for the 2018 Health Insurance Exchanges. The report showed that in spite of attempts by the Administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and sabotage our health care system, nearly 11.8 million people “selected or were automatically re-enrolled in an Exchange plan…” Bizarrely, the Administration seems to take credit for the success of 2018 Open Enrollment period. CMS’ press release calls it the “agency’s most cost effective and successful open enrollment to date.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma went on to say “However, even with the success of this year’s open enrollment, the individual market continues to see premiums rise and choices diminish.” We have previously highlighted actions taken by the Administration that caused instability in the Marketplace and helped inflate premiums. Just last week, it was reported that due to Administration and Congressional failure to stabilize the Marketplace, the repeal of the individual mandate, and proposals to allow short-term plans, insurers are preparing (once again) for double-digit rate increases. It is time for the Administration to take responsibility for their role in undermining the Marketplace.

If this was, as CMS called it, “the most successful open enrollment to date” it was despite the Administration, not because of it.  Many organizations and individuals spread the word and helped consumers get covered, with minimal assistance from the Administration. For months, the Center has highlighted the roadblocks the Administration put up, such as cutting the enrollment period in half; slashing funding for enrollment assistance and advertising; refusing to participate in enrollment events; shutting down healthcare.gov during critical times; and issuing regulations to allow the sale of “junk” plans. The “junk plans” are especially troubling as they will undermine benefits, erode ACA coverage protections and further inflate costs. Even the ability to access basic information about ACA benefits is being undermined. For example, the Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project issued a report this week showing that information about ACA coverage of mammograms has been removed from WomensHealth.gov.

The Administration has waged an attack on the ACA, an attack on health care rights and an attack on coverage for consumers who need care the most. Fortunately, Kaiser Health released data this week showing that ninety percent of individual market adult consumers say they still plan to buy coverage next year. This was even after they were told the individual mandate has been repealed. The Kaiser data is further evidence that Americans value access to quality health coverage.  Attempts to undermine this coverage must end.

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