Everyone other than Trump voters knew that Trump’s policies were bad for Trump voters. Trump’s assault on Obamacare has been a shining example, as he has worked to raise rates and eliminate enforcement of the tax penalties for not having insurance.
Despite such moves, for some reason a lot of people still wanted to have health insurance. So, Trump took the next logical step: slashing funding for “navigator” groups, organizations that educate citizens on their healthcare options under Obamacare and help them sign up for coverage.
The cuts, announced in August, slashed funding for these programs by 40%, to $36.8 million. The result was predictable: many areas, especially rural ones, will have no navigator programs helping citizens, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Most navigators laid off employees, and a majority are cutting their rural services. The biggest cuts are to navigators that serve red states: Indiana, Nebraska, and Louisiana all lost over four-fifths of their funding.
When the administration announced the cuts to reporters, the three officials at Health and Human Services on the conference call demanded anonymity. You know that policies are bad when the government can’t even find spokespeople willing to have their names associated with them. These anonymous Trumpists claimed that the cuts are related to the performance of the navigators. Yet most navigators said that they either received no explanation or unclear explanations for why their budgets were cut.
According to HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley, the problem is that navigators didn’t sign up enough participants last year. Many people who get help from navigators take some time to think about it and then sign up from home via the Internet. But since that type of assistance is hard to measure, Trump choses to ignore it.
Having navigators to help is particularly important this year. The administration also slashed public advertising about the open enrollment period by 90%. It eliminated Spanish-language materials. Trump cut the period for enrollment by more than half. And in a harsh move against Christians, who often get enrollment help from volunteers at church after services, the administration is shutting down the enrollment website for most of the Sundays during the enrollment period.
Despite all that work, Obamacare is still working, with coverage available in every county of the United States for next year. And most people who sign up on the exchanges will be protected from the higher rates by federal subsidies. So the impact of Trump’s moves will disproportionately hit those rural voters who don’t know about it. Some Trump supporters are likely to wind up bankrupt or dead as a result.