The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pulled contracts for two vendors that assisted individuals in purchasing health-care insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s exchanges. The companies, Cognosante LLC and CSRA Inc., helped 14,500 enrollees in 18 communities with services available at public libraries and local businesses.
The contracts were awarded in 2013 in response to an ACA provision that set aside grant money for community organizations to train people to answer questions and help consumers differentiate between plans. According to an email from CMS spokeswoman Jane Norris, the contracts were meant to provide temporary enrollment support, and other federally funded assistance programs will continue to help people purchase health-care insurance.
However, ACA advocates say the program was expected to continue for another year and that removing enrollment assistance from the communities will further destabilize the insurance market – particularly because the vendors focused on enrolling young, healthy adults who are needed in order to balance out the costs of caring for older or less healthy patients.
They are also concerned that consumer confusion will result from the change, which comes in conjunction with a reduced enrollment period (from 90 days to 45 days) starting November 1.
Source: The Associated Press, July 20, 2017.