Online SHOP Exchange Delayed Until November 2014
The administration said the online exchange will now open in November 2014 for coverage beginning January 2015. Federal officials said they needed more time to improve the website for the SHOP exchange.
A CMS memo distributed to stakeholders said, "We've concluded that we can best serve small employers by continuing this offline process while we concentrate on both creating a smoothly functioning online experience in the SHOP Marketplace" (Harrison, "On Small Business," Washington Post, 11/27).
HHS officials noted that small business owners and their employees still can enroll in coverage through brokers or directly through an insurer (Johnson, AP/Miami Herald, 11/27). The administration called brokers "essential" to ensuring SHOP's success.
An administration official described the process and said, "The agent, broker or insurer will help the employer fill out a paper application for SHOP eligibility and send it in to the SHOP marketplace." According to the New York Times, insurers can tell small business owners their premiums and can enroll employees in coverage (Pear, New York Times, 11/27).
House Small Business Committee Chair Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said, "In the midst of the angst and uncertainty that small businesses and Americans feel about Obamacare, today's news of yet another last-minute delay is just more proof that the law is unworkable and bad for small businesses" ("On Small Business," Washington Post, 11/27).
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said President Obama "bit off more than he can chew with this health care law, and small businesses are now forced to bear the consequences" (New York Times, 11/27).
Industry advocates had mixed reactions. John Arensmeyer, CEO of Small Business Majority, called the delay "disappointing," but he noted that "it doesn't change the fact that the marketplace can offer the most competitive combination of price and quality for small businesses purchasing health insurance" (AP/Miami Herald, 11/27).
Dan Danner, a spokesperson for the National Federation of Independent Business, called the delay "a disappointment but not a surprise." He added, "Small businesses continue to be low on the priority list during the Obamacare implementation process" ("On Small Business," Washington Post, 11/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.