Committee Presses the Administration on Mismanagement of Obamacare Small Business Health Options Program

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Washington, Dec 11, 2013 | comments
The Small Business Committee, led by Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), today examined the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges, their management failures and what the future holds for small businesses.

The SHOP exchanges were touted as the health care law’s mechanism to assist small businesses in identifying, comparing, and purchasing health insurance coverage for their employees. The purpose of the hearing was to clarify the status of the establishment of both the federally-run and state-based SHOP exchanges. Gary Cohen, Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, testified.

 “The management failures in the Small Business Health Options Program are part of a disturbing trend with this law,” said Chairman Graves. “Small firms are burdened already by the health care law’s requirements without the additional uncertainties in the SHOPs. The Obama administration has a long way to go to regain the trust of small businesses.

“The June GAO report that I requested was a clear warning that CMS’s management of the Small Business Health Options Program was behind. Since then the repeated delays of the federal exchange’s enrollment process have revealed serious disarray. Today’s hearing provided valuable insight on how these systemic problems were ignored to the detriment of small businesses. Now, largely the same management team that is responsible for the sequence of failures from the start must fix these problems and fulfill their responsibilities to small businesses.”

Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.

SHOP Mismanagement Timeline:

• On April 1, the Administration announced that the employer health insurance choice on the federal SHOP exchanges would be delayed until 2015, limiting employers to one single plan.

• In June, a GAO report requested by Chairman Graves confirmed the administration was ill-equipped for the implementation of the SHOPs.”

• On September 26, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that SHOPs online enrollment would be postponed from October 1 until November, forcing small businesses to enroll using paper forms. That same day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified the enrollment would begin on November 1.

• On October 29, during a Ways and Means Committee hearing, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the SHOPs would be operating at the end of November.

• On November 22, the administration extended the Obamacare federal SHOP exchange signup deadline (for January 1 coverage) from December 15 to December 23.

• On November 26, the Administration announced the fourth SHOP-related delay, this time delaying online enrollment on the federally-managed exchange until November 2014.

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