Home>NJ>Menendez, Booker Introduce Legislation to Restore Funding to Help NJans Sign Up for Health Insurance

U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez, left, and Cory Booker in 2018.

Menendez, Booker Introduce Legislation to Restore Funding to Help NJans Sign Up for Health Insurance

Trump Admin slashed funding for health care enrollment assistance by more than 80%, leading to fewer NJans being covered

By NJG Press Releases, June 19 2019 6:17 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy and a co-author of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Cory Booker today joined 20 colleagues in introducing the Expand Navigators’ Resources for Outreach, Learning, and Longevity (ENROLL) Act to restore funding for the Navigator outreach program that helps American families get the information and support they need to find a quality health care plan at a price they can afford. Democrats in the House passed companion legislation as part of H.R. 987 last month.

Navigators are essential to helping families, especially in underserved communities, enroll in health care coverage that meets their needs. As part of President Trump’s assault on the ACA, his administration slashed funding for the Navigator program by more than 80% since 2017.  Because of the cuts and other sabotage, more than one million Americans lost insurance coverage last year.  ACA enrollment in New Jersey dropped 4% from last year to 315,359.

“The navigator outreach program was designed to do just that—help hardworking people navigate the process for finding affordable health coverage that works for them,”said Sen. Menendez.  “Yet for the past two years, the Trump Administration and his allies in Congress have done everything possible to prevent American families from accessing quality health insurance they can afford—including slashing funding for navigator services to the bone—and they’re proud of it.  This bill restores those funds to ensure that anyone, living anywhere in New Jersey, can get the assistance they need and the coverage they deserve.”

“Navigators have played an essential role in helping countless New Jerseyans learn about and enroll in affordable, comprehensive health coverage,” said Sen. Booker.  “As part of its extensive sabotage efforts against the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration has slashed funding for this program by more than 80 percent.  In New Jersey, these cuts have left only one navigator organization standing to serve the entire state.  The ENROLL Act would restore funding for the Navigator program and help connect more New Jerseyans to the coverage they need.”

As the Trump sabotage of our health care system continues, the ENROLL ACT would take action to support the Navigator program and ensure that hardworking families can find affordable coverage that works for them.

The ENROLL Act would:

  • Ensure that Navigators have the resources they need to assist Americans in finding affordable health care coverage and restore funding for the program to $100 million annually;
  • Promote efforts to ensure that Navigators provide public education and assistance that helps consumers, including those who may need extra help signing up, find coverage, rather than prioritizing application numbers;
  • Clarify that Navigator responsibilities include enrolling consumers in Medicaid and CHIP coverage;
  • Promote efforts to provide Americans with information on comprehensive health insurance that protects individuals with pre-existing conditions; and
  • Require that states have at least two Navigator programs with a physical presence in the state, including at least one community-based organization.

The ENROLL Act is supported by 64 leading health care organizations and advocacy groups around the country, including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Families USA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Young Invincibles, and more.

“As the leading organization focused on young adult health and a leader of the National Get Covered Coalition, we know expert, unbiased help is critical to ensuring everyone has access to coverage. Navigators specialize in reaching people with additional barriers to coverage, including young people, who may be brand new to the health insurance market and greatly benefit from enrollment help. This program is a vital piece of the ACA that we hope to see fully funded to ensure everyone can get the information they need to make an informed enrollment decision,” said Erin Hemlin, Health Policy & Advocacy Director of Young Invincibles.

“Appropriately funding health care navigators is essential for making sure consumers—especially those with complex medical conditions like cancer—can get access to the kind of coverage that meets their needs,” said Lisa Lacasse, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

“We proudly support the Expand Navigator’s Resources for Outreach, Learning, and Longevity (ENROLL) Act, which would restore access to services that help Americans enroll in high-quality health care. Navigators provide an important service to individuals across the country who are looking for health insurance that meets their individual needs. We are deeply concerned about the cuts to this program that have limited help for consumers to understand and select their best health care options. People with pre-existing conditions need access to adequate affordable health insurance. This legislation takes an important step to help all individuals find the plan that best supports their needs,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association.

“Cuts to navigators and outreach and enrollment activities since 2016 have taken away resources that help consumers understand and select healthcare coverage that’s the best fit for their healthcare needs,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The American Lung Association urges the Senate to pass this legislation so that uninsured individuals can make informed decisions that protect their health.”

“Everyone can agree on at least one thing about health insurance – it’s complicated,” said Bari Talente, Executive Vice President of Advocacy for the National MS Society. “People living with MS are not alone in needing experts to help them understand their health insurance options; someone who can cut through the jargon and clarify the costs. The ENROLL Act is needed to restore Marketplace Navigators to their proper role as expert, no-fee health insurance counselors in every state. This can reduce the likelihood of disastrous consequences when people unknowingly buy health insurance that doesn’t cover the medicines, services or equipment they need.”

“Rare disease patients rely on the Navigator program to ensure they enroll in the best plan possible for their unique situation. If enacted, this legislation would restore the resources necessary for the Navigator program to continue its integral work of educating individuals on health care coverage and enrollment,” said Peter Saltonstall, President and CEO of the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

“For the more vulnerable members of the psoriatic disease community, including but not limited to the elderly and those in rural areas, accessing the critical services provided by Navigators can make all the difference in ensuring they select a health plan that meets their individual needs,” said Randy Beranek, President and CEO of the National Psoriasis Foundation.

“This legislation is badly needed to undo the harmful cuts made by this Administration to the Navigator Program. Navigators have served a critical role in enrolling Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in health insurance, helping communities of color find the affordable health care they need. The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum and our community partners have seen first-hand the harmful impacts these cuts have had on the populations we serve. I urge the Senate to follow the House in passing the ENROLL Act,” said Kathy Ko Chin, President and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.

The ENROLL Act is also cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

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