As Junk Plans Prepare to Hit the Market, Tester Demands Bureaucrats Stop Sabotaging Health Care

Senator Calls on Administration to Stop Blocking Access to Lifesaving Information

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is raising alarms about a harmful plan to get rid of health care “Navigators” and block Montanans’ access to critical health care information.

In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, Tester urged the Administration to restore critical funding for Navigators, experts who help individuals shop for health care plans.

Azar and Verma recently decided to slash the Navigator program by $26 million.

“Healthcare Navigators are essential to helping families enroll in health coverage,” Tester wrote in a letter signed by 21 other Senators. “Unfortunately, this Administration has taken every possible opportunity to weaken this program, sabotage enrollment efforts, and destabilize the Marketplace.”

The Navigator budget has decreased 84 percent since 2016, to a level Tester noted is “not sufficient” to fund the important work of connecting Americans to quality, affordable health care. Tester argued that as junk health insurance policies increase in availability, Montanans need experts who can help them navigate the health care system.

“Junk plans” are short-term health insurance plans designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage when Montanans transition from one long-term plan to another. They often don’t cover important expenses like hospital stays, prescription drugs, mental health care, or preexisting conditions.

“This program matters to folks in Montana, and makes sure they can get the help they need when signing up for healthcare,” Tester said. “I’m going to hold HHS and the Administration accountable so everyone can access quality, affordable healthcare.”

Tester recently stood up to Secretary Azar for trying to block women’s access to healthcare, and in June fought to secure over $280 million for Title X clinics as part of a bipartisan funding measure.
You can read Tester’s letter to Azar HERE.