Popular vote loser Donald Trump has essentially told Senate Republicans to give up on Obamacare repeal. That could be because he's figured out his administration can do tremendous damage to the law without repeal.
In addition to the massive budget cuts the administration has announced to outreach efforts, it's simply not providing the funding it has already for the 2018 enrollment period, and it's creating chaos.
The Trump administration has let funding for Obamacare’s $63 million in-person outreach program lapse, leading to layoffs and confusion among nonprofits that enroll vulnerable populations in coverage.
"I have delivered 10 layoff notices to staff members," says Donna Friedsam, director of Covering Wisconsin. "We don't have a funding flow anymore." […]
The sudden funding halt comes at a critical time for the Affordable Care Act. Navigator groups were just beginning to ramp up outreach for the health law's open enrollment period, which begins November 1. Now, some have done an about-face: They've canceled outreach work and appointments with potential enrollees because they have no budget to cover those costs.
These groups often work with the most vulnerable populations enrolled under the Affordable Care Act. One-third of those who seek in-person help signing up for coverage do not have internet at home, and one in 10 do not speak English.
The funding might be cut loose by the end of September, HHS hasn't said for sure, but it has indicated that funding will not be retroactive to cover activities for the month—anything done in September won't be paid for. This is not at all normal, says Friedsam. "Usually if the grant letter shows up late, it still goes back to the project start date. The Trump administration is essentially saying, you need to deconstruct your organization on September 1 and reconstruct it on whatever day we provide funding. In what world is that possible?" In Trump world.
But as of now, these groups have nothing to work with, no way to prepare for the enrollment period that kicks off on November 1. Trump doesn't need Congress to damage Obamacare, he can do it on his own.