November 27, 2013

Another ObamaCare Exchange Delay = Another Headache For 2014 Senate Democrats

The Obama White House continues to make life miserable for vulnerable Senate Democrats, announcing today in the pre-Thanksgiving news dump that those awesome online exchanges for small businesses every Democrat touted will be delayed until 2014.

The White House will hold off on launching its online health exchange where small businesses can shop for coverage until November 2014, an HHS official confirmed Wednesday. Small businesses will still have the option to purchase coverage through the new marketplace but will not be able to do so online. Instead, until next fall, employers with fewer than 50 workers will need to work through a broker or agent to buy health plans for their employees.

That’s just more bad news for the likes of Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich, Kay Hagan, and Mark Pryor, who couldn’t find enough great things to say about how awesome ObamaCare was going to be for small businesses.

Landrieu? Just last week, Landrieu was chairing a Small Business committee hearing in the Senate about the health insurance exchanges for small business. She said that it would free up small businesses from filing paper applications. Except this delay means the only way a small business owner can file for insurance on the exchange is through a paper application.

 

LANDRIEU: “The new shop market places will allow small businesses to compare plans easily, which was never, hardly ever possible before. Taking the administrative burden off employers and allowing them to get back to running their businesses which they do best, not filing paperwork to get health insurance.”

Begich? He said just a year ago the exchanges were “one of the easiest things to help small businesses.”

The health exchanges grew out of an earlier bill that had bi-partisan support, and was targeted at helping small businesses get better insurance by creating a larger pool, Begich said. ‘It’s one of the easiest things to help small businesses,’ he said.

Hagan? She told a reporter a few months ago that small businesses would see a lot of positives from the ObamaCare exchanges coming online.

HAGAN: “But what does benefit a small business is once the new healthcare exchanges come on line, and come on the market, coming in October of this year, small business will be able to purchase health insurance just like large businesses do. They’ll be given options. And some small businesses will actually be eligible for tax credits and for funding to help them purchase that health insurance. So I think there’s a lot of positives here that I want to encourage small businesses to reach out to my office and we can certainly help with information.”

Pryor? He couldn’t stop talking about how great ObamaCare’s exchanges were going to be for small businesses.

PRYOR: “That’s where we come into these — what they call state exchanges. And as you know and all your viewers know, there’s been a huge problem not just in Arkansas but around the country with small businesses and individuals and families getting health care coverage. Unless you work for a big company, or if you work for some government entity like a school district or the federal government or something, you get good health care. But for those other people, those millions of people all around the country that own small businesses, work for small businesses or small firms, it’s been a real challenge. And one thing I like is in 2014, once this all phases in and finally takes effect, one thing I like is that a small business with just one employee or just five or ten employees, they should be able to get basically what we think of today as group coverage. And what that means is they should have the buying power of an employee of a Fortune 500 company or of even a federal employee because they should be able to get into one of these exchanges and have access not just to one company but have maybe a dozen or more private insurance companies to choose from.”

It’s difficult to take advantage of an online-based exchange when it’s not even in existence. But that’s not what Begich, Hagan, and Pryor were talking about when they were promising constituents how great ObamaCare would be. And that’s something they can’t get away from.