CMS cuts funding for marketplace navigators for 2nd consecutive year

CMS announced it will cut funding to the healthcare marketplace Navigator Program to $10 million starting in the fall of 2018, representing a sharp decrease. The program helps consumers, small businesses and employees navigate marketplaces, which were created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will conduct a sixth open enrollment period later in 2018.

The program received $36 million in 2017 and $63 million in 2016.

CMS stated it does not need to spend as much on marketing now that the marketplace is more established, pointing to high enrollment numbers last year. Insurers are also spending more in marketing to promote the individual exchanges.

“It’s time for the Navigator program to evolve, which is why we are announcing a new direction for the program today,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. “This decision reflects CMS’ commitment to put federal dollars for the federally-facilitated Exchanges to their most cost-effective use in order to better support consumers through the enrollment process.”

Critics argue the move is another attempt to destabilize insurance markets, following repeated attempts by Republicans to overturn the ACA.