HHS Ignores Congressional Inquiry Into SHOPs While Small Businesses Continue To Suffer Under Obamacare

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Washington, Feb 10 | comments
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HHS Ignores Congressional Inquiry Into SHOPs While Small Businesses
Continue To Suffer Under Obamacare
Graves Letter To Secretary Sebelius Goes Unanswered 


Last month, Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to update Congress about the Obamacare Small Business Health Options Program (SHOPs) enrollment progress. The state-run SHOPs are off to a very sluggish start, and there is no data available for the federally-run program. The Administration has released the overall enrollment numbers for the health law, but hasn’t disclosed any information about enrollment via the SHOP exchange run by the federal government. Graves’ letter requested the enrollment numbers by last Friday, but the Committee has not received a response.

As small businesses are grappling with health care costs that have doubled as a result of Obamacare, many are confused and perplexed by all of the changes and delays to the law and the SHOPs in particular. A recent nonpartisan report shows that just the actions to repeal, defund, or delay the health law take up a dozen pages. It’s hard to imagine trying to run your small company while trying to keep up with the Obamacare cost increases, requirements, mandates, and rules, especially when deadlines keep changing. The following comments are just a few of those received from small business owners through the Committee’s interactive website, Small Biz Open Mic on this difficult challenge:

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Because we are a small manufacturer in Massachusetts, we already have the highest health care costs in the US. The ACA has made things exponentially worse. It has slowed economic growth considerably and completely hampered our ability to hire new people. 

Mark S. (Attleboro, MA) Lenn Arts, Inc., January 8, 2014

My husband and I own a small manufacturing company. We have contributed more than 50% towards our employees' health insurance premiums for over 10 years. We have absorbed double-digit increases in premiums and offered high deductible plans in order to allow our employees and their families to be covered at a manageable cost. The plan that we offered in 2013 is considered "non-compliant" with the ACA. A "comparable" plan that is compliant will result in an average 27.9% premium increase for 2014. We cannot afford our portion and my employees cannot afford theirs. The delays in getting rates to employers will mean that we don't have enough time to make a well-considered decision on what to offer (if anything) to our employees. I spend more time on insurance issues than I do on running my business. How is this better for anyone?

Nancy Williams (Cheshire, CT) Harkness Industries, October 22, 2013

I have a small manufacturing business in Virginia. I have always offered health coverage to my full time employees… The cost for coverage went from $37,850.00 per year to $188,000.00 per year – almost a 500% increase. I can't afford to pay this amount!... We are a small group of people that like working together and the ACA law could have significant negative effects on my people and company. What are small businesses to do? We had good coverage and were able to barely afford it, now it is out of our hands!! and out-of-control! 

David Carpenter (Wytheville, VA) Southwest Specialty Heat Treat, Inc., September 10, 2013

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Recognizing the importance of entrepreneurs’ feedback in the process of shaping the very policies that will help determine their business sustainability and growth, Chairman Graves launched Small Biz Open Mic in September of 2011.

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