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AP file photo

The Department of Health and Human Services announced today it's slashing the advertising and promotional budget for the Affordable Care Act for next year. It's planning to spend $10 million to promote the law in the open enrollment period that starts in November — compared to the $100 million the Obama administration spent last year.

Why they're doing it: On a conference call with reporters, HHS officials argued that last year's promotional spending — which was doubled from the year before — was ineffective because signups for new customers actually went down. They also said the $10 million budget is more in line with what Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D spend to promote their open enrollments.

Why it matters: The Trump administration is making cost-effectiveness a major theme this year, but it's sure to be accused of undermining ACA enrollment, given all of the Trump administration's battles to repeal the law — and given that it also cancelled advertising for the final days of last year's open enrollment.

One more thing: HHS is also planning to cut spending on “navigators," who are supposed to help people enroll, by tying their funding to their effectiveness in reaching their enrollment goals last year.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.