With just two days left until the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act marketplace begins, Public Health Madison and Dane County officals held a press conference Monday to discuss key changes to the program.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and Flora Csontos, a representative from Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office, were among notable politicians present at the event.
Pocan said the major changes to the Affordable Care Act were a 90 percent overall reduction to funding for educational services for the program, which include advertising, funding for healthcare navigators to answer questions and a shortened open enrollment period to half of last year’s time.
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Pocan also said while subsidies for insurance companies have been cut by the Trump administration, it was confusing to not mention that assistance for premiums is still available to everyone.
“I think what’s really happened out of this is that there’s been a real attempt to confuse people, to say that the subsidies [for individual healthcare holders] are no longer there,” Pocan said. “But the good news is that not only is the Affordable Care Act alive and well, but more of you know about it.”
Pocan also said the reduction to funding for ACA might cause some insurance premiums to increase, but programs like HealthConnect help make insurance affordable through premium assistance coverage.
Renee Moe, president and CEO of United Way, said families who live in Dane County and have incomes between 100 and 150 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for premium assistance from HealthConnect.
Funds are limited, however, and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis during the enrollment period, Moe said.
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Adam VanSpankeren, the southwest regional navigator lead for Covering Wisconsin, said these reductions to ACA funding and enrollment time won’t necessarily reduce the number of people who enroll this year, but these changes do present some challenges for people to enroll during the period.
As a healthcare navigator,VanSpankeren said he and his team are committed to taking extra administrative actions and hours to talk to whomever they can and assist them with ACA enrollment.
Soglin also said he wouldn’t let these “new limitations” to ACA stop people from accessing government healthcare services.
“Our objective is to get more people enrolled than ever this year despite the fact that the enemies of great health are trying to limit and [contract] that system,” Soglin said.