The rollout of the president’s health law has been riddled with many delays, mistakes and problems. A June GAO report, requested by House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves, specifically stated the Small Business Health Option Program’s (SHOPs) implementation delays and missed deadlines showed potential for ‘implementation challenges going forward,’ yet the Obama administration decided to move forward anyway. Even though online enrollment for the SHOPs has been delayed until November 1, many small businesses are uncertain and worried about their enrollment requirements and higher costs. Regulations and uncertainty are normally cited as a top threat to small businesses, according to numerous polls and surveys.
“Joshua Strickland who owns a small business in North Carolina spent two weeks trying to get on the Affordable Care Act site and couldn’t so he went to his own insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield. The results, no matter which way he goes he’ll be paying much more.”
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“Despite outreach and education attempts on the part of the Obama administration, small-business owners continue to express confusion regarding the SHOP exchanges.”
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“…local businesses owners are concerned about the changes the new law brings.”
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“Getting add-on sites up for Spanish-speaking users and small business employees could be the next key test for the Obama administration.”
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“Since learning of these increases, Extreme Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Jackson has debated whether it can afford to continue offering health care to employees, said Mark Trudell, the dealership’s general manager.”
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But the implementation concerns aren’t new. The June GAO report signaled that the SHOP’s were not ready for prime time.
Key findings from the GAO Report:
• Large number of exchange and SHOP activities weren’t completed. GAO found that, “…certain factors, such as the still-unknown and evolving scope of the exchange activities to be performed in each state by CMS, and the large numbers of activities remaining to be completed—some close to the start of enrollment—suggest a potential for implementation challenges going forward.”
• A key SHOP program to provide outreach and assistance to small employers and employees was delayed. GAO found that “[f]unding awards and development of a training curriculum for a key SHOP program that will provide outreach and enrollment assistance to small employers and employees has been delayed by about 2 months.”
• Core functions of both federal and state-based exchanges have yet to be completed. According to GAO, “[The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services] (CMS) has many key activities remaining to be completed across the core exchange functions – eligibility and enrollment, including development and implementation of the data hub; program management; and consumer assistance.”