Democratic Health Leaders Seek Answers from Trump Administration on Efforts to Sabotage ACA Open Enrollment

Jan 30, 2017
Press Release
Ask For Two Week Extension to Offset Enrollment Suppression

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) and Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to request further details on the Trump Administration’s decision to halt advertising and outreach activities for ahead of the crucial January 31st deadline for open enrollment. 

“We are deeply concerned that the Administration’s seemingly intentional efforts to sabotage enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplaces will result in adverse risk selection, destabilize insurance markets, and send premiums skyrocketing,” the members wrote in the letter.

“The White House’s order could hamper overall enrollment in the Marketplaces, as the final deadline for open enrollment has in the past been the second-biggest day for signups. Research has shown that the last week of open enrollment tends to draw younger enrollees, whose participation is critical to the stability of the Marketplace and to keeping premiums affordable. The White House’s efforts to suppress enrollment will therefore weaken the risk pool, resulting in greater costs for everyone.”

The letter also requests that open enrollment advertisements be reinstated immediately, that the open enrollment period be extended for another two weeks to offset the impact of enrollment suppression, and that the agency take action to encourage Marketplace enrollment  for 2017 and beyond.

The members are also seeking additional information on the decision to halt open enrollment advertising and the agency’s plans to prepare for the next open enrollment season including:

  • Who within the White House instructed HHS to halt paid media?
  • Was funding for advertising, communications, and marketing plans rescinded?
  • Does the Administration plan to keep the call centers to assist consumers open and appropriately staffed throughout 2017?
  • Does the Administration plan to keep online throughout 2017?
  • Does the Administration intend to continue to award Navigator grants to help consumers understand coverage options and financial assistance?

A copy of the letter is available here.