Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), has introduced legislation to increase federal funding for outreach activities by the federal health insurance marketplaces, state-run health insurance marketplaces, and local advocacy organizations to encourage health coverage enrollment, particularly among minority, rural, and underserved communities; people with disabilities; and young adults.

The bill, H.R. 4784 Affordable Care Act (ACA) Outreach for the Uninsured, Transformative Recruitment, and Enrollment Action for Compassionate Healthcare (OUTREACH) Act, is cosponsored by 36 members of Congress and makes a $1.2 billion investment over a four-year period in order to address severe cuts by the Trump Administration, which slashed outreach activity funding by more than 90 percent in Fiscal Year 2017.

“Our health care system is under attack by a president, administration, and Republican-controlled Congress that – after numerous failed attempts to repeal Obamacare – are sabotaging it for political gain,” Waters said. “My legislation seeks to reverse their vindictive efforts to undermine and de-stabilize our health care system by ensuring that all consumers are provided with the information they need to make timely and well-informed decisions when purchasing health coverage through the federal and state-run marketplaces.”

The ACA OUTREACH Act would appropriate $300 million per year for ACA navigator grants and outreach and promotional activities for the next four fiscal years. Specifically, it provides:

• $100 million for grants to navigator programs, which provide funding to organizations that educate consumers and facilitate enrollment during the Annual Open Enrollment Periods;

• $100 million for outreach and promotional activities by the federal government in states with a federally-facilitated health insurance marketplace; and

• $100 million for grants to states with a state-based marketplace to enhance outreach activities.

The bill also requires that outreach and promotional activities target individuals who are most likely to be uninsured, such as young adults, African Americans, Hispanics, and low-income Americans who, according to a Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, represent the majority of the 3.2 million Americans that were uninsured in 2017.

 A recent Covered California report identifies marketing and outreach investments as essential tools in increasing overall enrollment in the health insurance market, attracting a healthier risk pool, lowering premiums, and encouraging health insurance companies to participate in the market with more certainty and potential returns. Covered California estimated that every dollar invested in marketing yields a more than three-to-one return on investment.

 “My home state of California has demonstrated outstanding leadership by aggressively investing in health care outreach and navigator programs,” Waters continued. “I am proud to introduce legislation that not only increases funding for promotional activities in our state but also takes steps to increase enrollment in underserved communities, lower health care premiums, and ensure a stable health insurance marketplace nationwide.”