Small Business Letdown: Obamacare's SHOP Delayed Until Nov. 2014

Small Business Letdown: Obamacare's SHOP Delayed Until Nov. 2014The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the Obamacare online marketplace for small-business owners will be up and running in November 2014.
Yes, that’s 11 months away. That’s one year later than expected.
The online marketplace for small-business owners, called the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, will be available for companies with 50 or fewer full-time workers. It had already been delayed from a scheduled Oct. 1, 2013 start.
Businesses can use brokers or enroll directly with insurers until then, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. The shift from the online marketplace applies to 36 states where the federal government is running insurance exchanges.
“This process, called ‘direct enrollment,’ is similar to how most small employers get insurance today,” the HHS blog post said. Translation: small-business owners need to work with a  professional to buy insurance.
President Obama has been seeking to give consumers and insurers more time to fully implement the Affordable Care Act as this year’s rollout has been overwhelmed with missed deadlines,  technical malfunctions and cancellation letters sent to millions of Americans by current insurers.
The National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small companies, said the latest delay is undermining any confidence small business owners have with the Obama Administration.
“Small businesses continue to be low on the priority list during the Obamacare implementation process,” said Kevin Kuhlman, manager of legislative affairs for the Nashville, Tennessee-based trade group. “The failure to get the small business exchanges online adds yet another onerous paperwork requirement for job creators.”
Republicans have taken advantage of the announced year-long delay to criticize the administration’s handling of  Obamacare, which the opposing party considers a failed policy anyway.
“Once again, President Obama has unilaterally delayed another major portion of Obamacare, and once again, he has tried to bury bad news around a holiday hoping nobody will notice. These are hardly the actions of a transparent administration,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R, Va.) in a written statement.
The announcement of the delay was made on a blog post from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services right before Thanksgiving.

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