House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) released the following statement on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) decision to delay the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) ‘employee choice’ option until at least 2016, further limiting the breadth of choice that was originally envisioned, which could lead to increased premium costs.
“Today’s announcement from CMS is yet another in a long line of bad news and signs of poor management of SHOP,” said Chairman Graves. “HHS and CMS haven’t answered my inquiries regarding the development of SHOP and it appears that the dysfunction is worse than many of us thought. This pattern of continued delays and confusion is especially disappointing to me and the small business community as many firms grapple with increased health costs. Under Obamacare, costs are increasing for nearly two-thirds of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees, according to a CMS report released in February. Just imagine trying to run a small company and keep up with all of the changes and delays regarding this law.”
Last week, Graves wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to again request information about the SHOP enrollment. In January, Graves requested enrollment numbers and related information from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The information has not been produced.
List of previous delays and mismanagement:
• On April 1, 2013, the Obama Administration announced that the employer health insurance choice on the federal SHOP exchanges would be delayed until 2015, limiting employers to one single plan.
• On June 19, 2013, a GAO report requested by Chairman Graves confirmed the administration was ill-equipped for the implementation of the SHOPs, showing potential for “implementation challenges going forward.”
• On September 26, 2013, HHS announced the 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, 2013.
• During a Ways and Means Committee hearing on October 29, 2013, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the SHOPs would be operating at the end of November.
• On November 22, 2013, the Administration extended the Obamacare federal exchange signup deadline (for January 1 coverage) from December 15 to December 23.
• On November 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving, the Administration announced a fourth SHOP-related delay, postponing online enrollment for a full year.