As we have noted again and again, even though Congress hasn’t managed to repeal (much less “replace”) the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration keeps coming up with new ways to sabotage Obamacare, like cutting this fall’s open enrollment period by half (from 90 days to 45 days, ending December 15 to screw people who put off enrolling until the last minute in previous years), slashing the advertising budget by 90%, and forbidding HHS regional directors from attending ACA enrollment events (which are tainted by the presence of groups that don’t want Obamacare to die). Well, like any bunch of damn trouble-making do-gooders, some former Health and Human Services officials who worked on promoting ACA enrollment during the Obama administration have set up a new group to promote open enrollment this fall (November 1 to December 15), since the actual Trump HHS isn’t interested in doing its own goddamned job.
The new group, Get America Covered, went online today, and was co-founded by Obama administration veterans Lori Lodes and Joshua Peck. Both worked in HHS’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency responsible for making the ACA work, as part of the efforts to reach and enroll people for individual health insurance plans on the healthcare exchanges. In a press release, Lodes said,
If the administration was committed to making sure people had the information they needed to sign up for health care, we wouldn’t need to start Get America Covered. But people’s lives are at stake so everyone has to step up and fill whatever gaps they can so people get the health care they need […]
With an Open Enrollment period that’s half as a long, a new final deadline to enroll, cancelled advertising and gutted funding for guides who help people through the process, the administration is making it harder for people to get their health care coverage. We can’t fix that but we can’t sit on the sidelines either. So we’re going to do everything we can to make sure people have the facts about the quality, affordable health care coverage that’s available at HealthCare.gov.
The group’s national co-chairs will be former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt, who writes some of the best healthcare ‘splainers on Twitter, as well as Van Jones, former insurance executive Mario Molina, and Goddamned Hollywood Liberals Alyssa Milano and Bradley Whitford. [West Wing digression excised for me, the editrix, by me, the editrix.]
Lodes concedes that the new nonprofit can’t do what a properly run, properly funded government agency would, like CMS did under Obama, but she’s certain that their outreach will be better than the paltry efforts the Trump administration is making: “They have set the bar so low.”
“Our focus is really going to be on the facts that people need to know to get signed up,” Lodes said. The organization has what she described as a “six-figure” budget raised from foundations and private organizations she wouldn’t disclose, and is still raising funds. The group will also solicit online donations from the public.
Get America Covered will also collaborate with other private groups trying to fill in the gap the Trump administration is leaving open, including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Families USA, Indivisible, Young Invincibles and Community Catalyst, Lodes said.
And no, imaginary libertarian reader, this is not an example of how we don’t need no government when there are nonprofit activists working to pick up the slack where government fails to do its job. It’s more like people forming a bucket brigade after Mayor Trump has deliberately driven the town’s only fire truck into a bridge abutment. A worthy effort, but no replacement for the real thing, and it shouldn’t be needed at all.