Congressman Sam Graves “Small Business Program Mismanagement Epitomizes Obamacare Incompetence”

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Washington, Jun 23 | comments

Congressman Sam Graves “Small Business Program Mismanagement Epitomizes Obamacare Incompetence”
By Chairman Sam Graves

The Obama administration just can’t seem to deliver on its promises for Obamacare, and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) clearly illustrates this. This program was designed to simplify the process for small businesses to compare health plan costsand select an appropriate plan for their employees, and through competition, bring down costs.  In practice, it has done just the opposite because of a series of missed deadlines and delays. In fact, the program has now been delayed five times since April 2013.

During the Obamacare debate, many questioned the wisdom of granting the government more control over health care, but the botched rollout and implementation of the policy adds an additional concern that this law is leading to further confusion and uncertainty for small businesses.

In the turmoil of the administration’s rollout of Obamacare, the small business program repeatedly fell behind schedule. We first learned of the administration’s inability to deliver SHOPs as planned with their announcement on April 1, 2013, that the employer health insurance choice on the federal SHOP exchanges would be delayed until 2015,

limiting employers to one single plan. That delay was the first of many.

On June 19, 2013, a report I requested from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) confirmed the administration was ill-equipped to implement SHOP and that there could be “implementation challenges going forward.” The report proved to be accurate, because the incompetence continued like clockwork.

On September 26, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the federal SHOPs online enrollment would be postponed until November, 2013, 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. CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner then further clarified in a congressional hearing on October 29, 2013, that the SHOPs would be operating at theend of November. Just when you thought they were done, another delay was announced on November 27, 2013 while most of the country wasn’t paying attention, the day before Thanksgiving.

The pattern of stops and stutters has continued with the latest delay coming last week!

These delays and lack of choices are contributing to increased premium costs for businesses, which is exactly what Nancy Pelosi and President Obama said wouldn’t happen. To be exact, 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. Small businesses do not expand and hire when facing increasing costs and confusion, and the administration’s disarray in managing this program is just one more element of uncertainty for small firms in a weak economy.

Topping off the administration’s ongoing and obvious dysfunction is its unwillingness to release basic data about participation in the program. Back in January, I requested enrollment numbers and related information from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius but received no data. I asked again this month, with no luck. For a President that ran on more government accountability, it’s astonishing how little information is disclosed about a program in which the taxpayers are investing billions.

As a Missouri Representative and Chairman of the Small Business Committee, I will continue to work for transparency from these federal agencies on behalf of small businesses and families. This mismanagement and inadequacy is causing the American people and small business owners to lose trust in their government’s ability to do just about anything. We deserve better.

Read the article online HERE.

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