Health Law Sign-Ups Start, And Some See A ‘Hostile Takeover’

City, County Officials Urge Residents To Act Now & Enroll

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WASHINGTON (KDKA/AP) – It’s sign-up season for the Affordable Care Act, but the Trump administration isn’t making it easy – cutting the enrollment period in half, slashing advertising and dialing back on counselors who help consumers get through the process.

Many people already faced fewer choices and higher premiums and other out-of-pocket costs.

But President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel subsidies to insurers that lower consumer costs compounded the turmoil, pushing premiums higher.

The number of uninsured people may start rising again, eroding gains that drove the uninsured rate to a historic low.

Some are calling it a “hostile takeover.”

Congressman Mike Doyle wants people in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to act now, to enroll in healthcare plans on the healthcare.gov marketplace.

“Despite all the noise and confusion, the Affordable Care Act has not been repealed, healthcare,gov is still open for business, the open enrollment season for next year, starts this week,” said Congressman Doyle.

Joining Rep. Doyle to make the announcement at the Allegheny County Courthouse Monday morning, were Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, former Steeler Franco Harris and director of the Allegheny County Health Dept., Dr. Karen Hacker, who noted that 96 percent of the people in Allegheny County are insured, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act.

“When I first got here a few years ago, we had about 100,000 people who were uninsured,” said Dr. Hacker. “Now, some of that was due to Medicaid of course, but a good deal of that is due to the exchanges that are currently available.”

“It has really been a tremendous benefit for families in Allegheny County, not just on their physical health and their health security, but also for their financial security,” Fitzgerald said.

The open enrollment begins Nov. 1, 2017, and ends Dec. 15, 2017. That’s a shorter timeframe than in previous years.

“The Trump administration cut the outreach budget by 90 percent, so that the money that used to be used to inform people that the enrollment period is coming up and that you need to sign for, all that money was cut,” Rep. Doyle said.

The Congressman encourages those looking for health insurance to shop around for the best options, and keep in mind that help is available.

Sign-up season starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15 in most states.

Administration officials say they intend to run a smooth and efficient sign-up season.

Financial help with premiums is still available.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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