Enroll America, one of the primary forces for driving new enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, is hemorrhaging money and staff. The national organization was set up to run a campaign to get more Americans covered. But as the open enrollment period for 2015 winds down, Politico reports that the organization is set to shed one hundred employees in a huge reduction of their staff. The reason? Money:
The group, led by veterans of President Barack Obama’s campaigns and administration, was never intended to last forever, but a precipitous drop in funding forced it to scale back to half of its peak size after only two seasons of Obamacare sign-up. That’s a more rapid throttling back than some of the people associated with Enroll had envisioned at the start […]
“The field work that Enroll America did has really contributed significantly to the numbers that we do have,” said Anne Gauthier of the National Academy for State Health Policy. Sign-up efforts have be community-based to connect with hard-to-reach populations, but “those local efforts will need funding, one way or another.”
The story notes that Enroll America isn’t closing, just reducing its staff, and the organization intends to train partner groups to take over some of the work it presumably won’t be able to do now. Still, this news comes at a bad time for the ACA. Even if you take the Administration’s recent figures at face value (and there are reasons not to), around 16 million people have enrolled since 2010, when the law began going into effect—only a small chunk of the 41 million people who were uninsured five years ago, according to some estimates. And the pace of enrollment, even given the special sign-up period created by the Administration and with tax penalties for non-coverage only now starting to kick in, is slowing. Decelerating enrollment paired with a shrinking Enroll America raise questions about how successful future enrollment campaigns will be.