Key Part of Obamacare's Small Business Exchange Delayed Again


A key component of Obamacare's already-delayed small business exchange has been postponed—again.

When the Obama administration announced in November that it would delay the opening of the health insurance portals meant to serve small firms, it wasn't much a surprise. The federal exchange system had crashed on opening amid massive technical problems, and virtually all the tech work was going into the repair of that system. Signs of trouble were apparent before that, however.

The small business portal delay had been previewed months before the crash, in April, when the administration had delayed what was arguably the key component of the exchange—the "choice" option intended to allow small employers to offer workers an array of plans from which to pick.

That provision has been delayed yet again, at least for states that want to wait. As The Washington Post reports:

In an extension of an earlier delay, Department of Health and Human Services officials have finalized rules giving states another year before they have to implement a key feature of the exchanges meant to help small businesses rein in their health costs.

Originally, every state was supposed to allow small employers to offer employees a choice of multiple plans on the insurance marketplaces — a feature experts say will help stir competition and down rates in the long run.

Now, "the employer choice" feature take wait longer. [sic] According to the new regulations, state insurance commissioners are permitted to opt out of adding that feature to their state's small business exchange this coming year if they have reason to believe it will prompt insurers to raise rates for 2015.

Notice of the delay comes in an article checking up on the status of the small business exchange, known as the SHOP (small business health options program), which federal officials will open as planned later this year. "Other than that change," to the choice option, the Post reports, "the federal small business exchange seems to be on pace for a fully operational debut in November."

That's a little like saying that a car is ready to go because it's all there except for the wheels and steering wheel. Other than that, it's all on track to be fully operational.

The choice component is, by most accounts, the essential function of the small business exchange. When word of last year's delay first came out, influential health policy scholar Timothy Jost, a supporter of the health law, wrote in Health Affairs that the choice option was the "primary benefit" of the small business exchange. If that option is not available, he said, it would be "unclear what advantage" the SHOP exchange would actually offer to small employers over insurance options that already existed.

So the small business exchanges will be ready—except for their primary benefit, the only clear advantage the small business exchange offered over previously available arrangements. Just a small thing, really.

 Delaying only this component allows the administration to claim that the small business exchange is basically on track even while it is still, for most practical purposes, in limbo. And it suggests that the provision may be stubbornly difficult to make functional. When the administration announced the delay of the choice provision last year, federal officials cited vague "operational challenges" to completing the work. This time, they say, the feature will be ready should states opt in, according to the Post. But when it comes to this administration's work on the exchanges, it's worth remaining skeptical of any claims about what will be ready at some point in the future. Last year at this time, the administration was saying that the federal exchange would be ready on launch day, and that the small business exchange, sans choice options, would open along with it. 

NEXT: Techno-Panic Self-Parody Alert

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  1. Delaying only this component allows the administration to claim that the small business exchange is basically on track

    There’s no sugarcoating it: This administration doesn’t require *any* rationalization to claim that the small business exchange is basically on track.

  2. This is really quite fascinating to watch. How much bullshit can America tolerate? Far more than I ever imagined, that’s for sure.

    1. Yep. It’s fucking incredible.

      Why don’t they just claim cancer has been cured while they’re on a roll?

    2. How much bullshit can America tolerate? Far more than I ever imagined, that’s for sure.

      *nods slowly, knowingly*

    3. I tried to reply earlier, but the squirrels apparently dislike space talk. In summary, now that they are about to unveil the new Dragon it’s time for some more committees.

    4. I have this hope that we’ve all decided that we’re going to let the current administration go on their way. In the interest of tolerance. And in 2016, we’re going to elect executive rather than campaigning competence.

      I know this is false, but it lets me not have to figure out how to steal all my retirement money from the IRS and abscond with my family to a place that will be less comfortable and more difficult. In 2017, I’m really going to have to figure out how to get to Oz or Canada, which seem like the best alternative to the US we used to have.

      1. The land of Oz is expensive as F*.

        It’s a vibrant country economically but the gov is very onerous.

        If you have fixed income/limited funds, the “3rd” world is still your best retirement bet.

  3. As I have watched while Americans cowardly strip for the TSA, put up with mass surveillance, seem fine with 100 miles from the border checkpoints, and are A.OK with suspending Johnny for drawing a gun, I’d say there’s pretty much no more limits on what Americans will tolerate.

    1. What choice do people have? Seriously. Object to any of this and the police will be summoned. Then if you’re lucky you go to jail. If you stand up for yourself you will be beaten and/or killed. And nothing else will happen. Liberty and justice for none.

      1. Last I checked Cody Wilson was still alive.

        1. Has he defied the TSA in an airport? Has he objected at a checkpoint? Has he berated a public school official? Has he resisted arrest? No? Then why the fuck are you bringing him up?

    2. Just ignore the fucking thing. The status quo is still there. Plenty of options still exist out there.

      Fake indignation is the new pouty gestalt.

      1. Keep licking that ass, shreek.

        1. Is this an attempt to detuning its neural network?

          Nice. 😉

        2. C’mon. Who gives a fuck if some piece of the ACA is delayed? The opponents have been TRYING TO DELAY the fucking thing.

          1. Talk about missing the point. As usual.

          2. Oh, and don’t ask me to tell you what the point is. You’re too stupid to understand.

            1. No, I am talking about the idiots who react “OMG! ANOTHER DELAY!” – not the ones who know government is inept.

              1. Just keep licking that ass, shreek.

              2. No, I am talking about the idiots who react “OMG! ANOTHER DELAY!”

                So you’re talking about no one. That’s stupid. Not surprising coming from you, but still very stupid.

          3. “Who gives a fuck if some piece of the ACA is delayed?”

            But…but…its the LAW. OF. THE. LAND.!

      2. The status quo is still there.

        THIS is complete bullshit.

      3. Just ignore the fucking thing.

        Tell me, if we should just ignore it, why shouldn’t we repeal it?

      4. The status quo is still there.

        I can forego insurance without having the IRS sicced on me? I can buy catastrophic-only policies?

  4. Fearless Leader, talk show guy, and Jay Carney? Whole lot of smug in that picture. I’d like to go all Moe Howard on them.

  5. OK, which one of you Peanuts really really could not wait to use this new SHOP part of Obamacare?

    OK, those of you who said ‘yes’ can proceed to get pissed off.

    1. I think you’re conflating “pissed off” with “utter disdain”.

      1. I thought he was using the Britishism for ‘drunk’.

      2. Guys!

        Sevo was starting the path of detuning it’s neural network to producing only innocuous comments, and then you ruin it by giving a larger response to its bizarre pro fascist comments thereby reinforcing the weights in favor of it making offensive fascist comments.

        Remember, it is not sentient, and it has no ability to comprehend any of the concepts being discussed here. This means we have the collective power to train it to write comments exclusively on topics such as it’s unrequited lust for Epi’s petunias. But only if we are disciplined and only reward comments that are more in tune to the ones we desire to see.

        1. So it’s like Eliza?

          1. Not quite…

            Eliza had no memory. It response is generated by an algorithm that is fixed and it doesn’t adjust the weights used to choose responses when a random number generator is used.

            Shriek’s shambolic neural soup, on the other hand, does adjust its responses. It may not be sentient, but it can learn.

            1. does adjust its responses. It may not be sentient, but it can learn.

              So did Eliza, however, after some point, it always turned the discussion to my mother… like Episiarch…

              … wait the FUCK A SECOND!

    2. You know, only 8% of Reason posters read your posts. And then, only 8% of what you post actually
      gets read because it starts causing headaches, causing the reader to need to drink all but 8% of a bottle of scotch so they can forget the stupid shit they just read.

    3. The ‘Plug: Infiltrating libertarian circles and assassinating us by slow liver damage.

      1. If your gonna go, might as well go out with a good scotch.

    4. Thanks for telling us all how to feel fucknut.

    5. OK, which one of you Peanuts really really could not wait to use this new SHOP part of Obamacare?

      My girlfriend is losing her small business sponsored insurance, which is a very nice policy indeed, and will be forced next year to get a shitty exchange policy. No one at her company is not pissed off about it.

      1. They didn’t have real health insurance.

        1. My employer shoved us onto real health insurance as soon as the Unaffordable Care Act passed. It costs twice as much and doesn’t cover anything. Between increased insurance payments, hospital bills, and the fact that we’ve had a pay freeze since the Great Recession, my net yearly income is down by thousands of dollars a year. Yay O’Bummer Care!

          1. Your obvious racism sickens me!

    6. We’re not mad because we don’t get to use SHOP. We’re mad because the administration is refusing to faithfully execute an enacted law.

  6. Key Part of Obamacare’s Small Business Exchange Delayed

    God-damned treasonous Republicans.

  7. So are the other federal exchanges working yet? Has there been much improvement since the disastrous launch?

  8. How about we just provide insurance brokers with this information, and let them do the work? Because insurance companies don’t want to pay a commission? (Probably…)

  9. So Weigel (AKA PbPlug) is arguing that if you objected to OCare in the first place, you have no business complaining if it is turned into an Enabling Act where the King can do as he pleases w/ any deadlines.

    Weigel is as Weigel does.

    1. Like the social contract. If you participate in the political process by voting, then you implicitly consent to the results. If you do not participate in the process, then you implicitly consent because if you really cared then you would vote. Heads they win, tails you lose.

      1. The only way out is to hardcore participate, by getting elected. Then you are exempted from any such nonsense.

      2. Heads they win, tails you lose.

        Have I mentioned that I don’t like to play that game yet?

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