President Barack Obama will announce another Affordable Care Act deadline delay on Wednesday, pushing back the online enrollment for small businesses until after the 2014 midterm elections.
According to a Health and Human Services memo obtained by Politico, the Obama administration will delay mandate for small businesses to purchase health insurance for their employees on the federal exchanges until November of next year.
“We’ve concluded that we can best serve small employers by continuing this offline process while we concentrate on both creating a smoothly functioning online experience in the SHOP Marketplace, and adding key new features, including an employee choice option and premium aggregation services, by November 2014,” the HHS notice said.
Small businesses were granted permission to sign up for health care through paper applications for a limited amount of time beginning Oct. 1. In the wake of the poorly-designed HealthCare.gov website that has continued to malfunction since its launch, businesses will be given that privilege for another year, along with options to enroll through third parties or insurers directly.
This is the second time the administration has delayed enrollment in the federally-run SHOP small business exchange. The first time was just days before the law’s major launch on Oct. 1, when officials said it would be ready “sometime in November.” The administration gave a similar deadline for the federal individual exchange website after the extent of its problems began coming to light. Now it appears neither will meet that deadline.
The delay will apply to three-dozen states dependent on the federal SHOP exchange, while states managing their own exchanges, with relatively few problems to speak of, will stick to the original deadline.
Such a delay could be a purposefully timed political strategy aimed at appeasing congressional Democrats facing re-election in 2014. Those that have supported the law before, during, and after its passage have been facing tough questions in their home states recently about unrealistic deadlines, information hiccups, cancelled policies, privacy concerns and general inability to sign up since the fully-fumbled roll-out of the law’s major components.
Many Democrats may have been unable to overcome another Obamacare-related liability in the midst of an election year.
Many of the issues have proved a lot of the president’s favorite talking points about his premiere legislation over the last three years to be untrue – including the ones he sold to congressional Democrats to ensure the law’s passage in 2010, before they lost control of the House of Representatives in a midterm election.