Obamacare delay could reignite health care exchange fight

ObamaCareExchangeDelayApparently Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is beginning to realize what then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi meant with her famous comment about the passage of Obamacare “we have to pass it to see what is in it”. A recent comment by Sebelius that “she did not anticipate how complicated implementing the president’s signature healthcare law would be” indicates that the administration is still discovering “what is in it”.

In that spirit of discovery the Obama administration has announced that the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), the small business health insurance exchanges promised by Obamacare, will be delayed. Originally scheduled to be available in January 2014, the SHOP will be delayed to 2015 in the 33 states where the federal government will be running the exchanges. As of right now, that will likely include Michigan.

For now it looks like this will mean that business under 50 employees will only be able to choose one plan from the SHOP exchange for their employees in 2014. Then, in theory, by 2015 small business would be able to choose from a range of plans. Health insurance exchanges for individual purchasers are still planning to be in place by 2014 but it would be no surprise if a similar delay is announced as the year progresses.

In Michigan, the delay could result in a return to the legislative battle over whether Michigan should have a state, federal, or state-federal health care exchange under the law. At the moment it appears that the “don’t touch it with a ten foot pole” sentiment has prevailed as the deadlines to implement anything but a federal run exchange have come and gone without action by the legislature.

However, if the other shoe drops – and those federal deadlines also get delayed by a year – a state, or federal-state run exchange could be back in play at the state capital.

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About Charles Owens

Charles Owens has been advocating the interests of small business in the Michigan Legislature for over 25 years, beginning with his tenure at the Michigan Institute of Laundering and Dry-cleaning and currently with the National Federation of Independent Business / Michigan. As the State Director of one of Michigan's most respected small business organizations, Owens is responsible for directing the NFIB in its mission to maintain the viability of small business in the face of expanded legislative and regulatory challenges. Owens has been an active participant in the legislative debate over numerous landmark Michigan issues including: the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, inheritance tax, tort liability reform, Unemployment Insurance reform, Workers’ Compensation, and Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Act (MIOSHA) issues. Owens and the NFIB spearheaded the efforts of other small business groups in the fight for fairness and equity for small business in the debate over the repeal and replacement for the Michigan Business Tax. Owens is a 25 year member of the Capitol Club, a dedicated group of association executives committed to the advancement of legislative advocacy for their respective organizations. In 2005 he was elected by his peers to be President of the organization. In 2006, Owens was ranked as number five of the top ten single interest individual lobbyists in Michigan by Inside Michigan Politics. Under his leadership, NFIB was also ranked in the top twenty lobbyist organizations and top ten single interest lobbying organizations by the same publication. Originally a native of Rockford, Illinois, Owens graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors Degree in Finance and Business Administration. follow on twitter: @OwensNFIB
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