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Secretary Sebelius stands by President Obama as he speaks to Seniors at the Holiday Park Multipurpose Senior Center in Wheaton, MD. HHS photo by Chris Smith
The Obama administration announced today that is delaying the online launch of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange for a year. It opened on Oct. 1 with paper applications and the website was supposed to have been operational by the end of November. The administration is working on other options for small business owners to shop for and purchase plans for their businesses, primarily through insurance brokers or agents.
"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 Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services wrote in a Q&A distributed to health law stakeholders.

Health law supporters expressed frustration at the decision, but said they still support the overall goal of making it easier for small businesses to shop for coverage.

"It’s disappointing that the online portion of the federal small business marketplace through Healthcare.gov will be delayed and it’s important it get up and running as soon as possible," said John Arensmeyer, president of the Small Business Majority, a non-profit that supports the Affordable Care Act. "However, it doesn’t change the fact that the marketplace can offer the most competitive combination of price and quality for small businesses purchasing health insurance."

There have multiple delays with this program. Back in April, the employee choice option which is intended to allow employees to pick their own plans  was delayed until 2015. In September, the administration announced that SHOP would not be online Oct. 1 as intended, but said it would be ready by the end of November. So yet another delay is frustrating, but at least we'll be spared all the stories about what a nightmare the website is for small business owners signing up. And you know we would have been inundated with those horror stories.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Nov 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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