August 31, 2017

WASHINGTON — Following an announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about reduced outreach and education during the Open Enrollment Period and reductions in Navigator funding, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) issued the following statement.

“We firmly believe, and the data over four enrollment periods points to the same, that robust enrollment of all eligible persons is one of the keys to healthy, stable and functioning Marketplaces,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “Yet today’s announcement threatens to seriously undermine those efforts and particularly impact the hardest-to-reach populations who will face barriers to enrolling and reenrolling in coverage – namely those who are limited English proficient, racial and ethnic minorities and eligible immigrants. These communities already have the highest barriers to entry, whether due to lack of awareness of their coverage options, language barriers and complex eligibility questions. Reducing funding to Navigators who have served millions of consumers will only shift the burden directly onto communities, threatening the success of the Marketplaces.”

CMS plans to reduce outreach and education to only $10 million. In addition, while CMS will continue the existing Navigator program, total Navigator funding will be cut by 50 percent and Navigator grantees will have their funding levels tied to meeting performance targets from the previous enrollment cycle.

As outlined in APIAHF’s letter to the House and Senate on Marketplace stabilization, robust outreach and enrollment, including fully funding the Navigator program, is critical to meeting the needs of diverse populations who otherwise will not have the information they need to learn about their coverage options and enroll.

Since 2012, APIAHF and partners have worked to outreach, educate and enroll nearly one million Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs) through Action for Health Justice, working through 70 community based organizations and health centers in 56 different languages.