Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are putting together a new effort to promote enrollment, hoping to make up for at least some of the Trump administration's cuts to that outreach program.
What's happening: The plan is still under wraps for now, but an announcement could come as early as this week. The approach sounds like it'll be roughly in line with the role Enroll America played during the first four open-enrollment periods, before closing its doors this past spring.
- A source familiar with the planning tells me the new effort "will involve celebrities, fundraising, experienced marketers, and a broad coalition."
- It also will have multiple national chairs. Among them will be Andy Slavitt, who helped administer the ACA for the last few years of President Obama's administration.
- Many pieces of that coalition are already established. The Obama-era outreach effort relied heavily on local organizers, who are still there — though someone else will need to pay them, now that the Trump administration has slashed the grants that funded their work.
Why it matters: ACA enrollment at the end of the Obama administration was stable overall, but with some problem spots. And that's where things ended up with both the White House and its external allies pulling out all the stops to get people to sign up and make things work as well as possible.
My thought bubble: The Trump administration isn't interested in making things work as well as possible. So if the law is going to even maintain its current level of on-the-ground strength, its allies will have to do the heavy lifting.
Yes, but: External allies were a sort of force multiplier for the Obama administration. It's pretty hard to go from a force multiplier to a force replacer. Two key points from a veteran of the Obama-era outreach effort:
- It'll be awfully hard for any non-profit to raise as much money as the Trump administration has cut (roughly $90 million) from its own budget.
- The Department of Health and Human Services alone has the most valuable asset in this whole effort: the list of people who enrolled previously. (Enroll America never had that data, and a new group won't, either.) In short, outside organizations can only do so much.