Chairman: Businesses hurt by ObamaCare’s ‘changing script’

Small businesses are being squeezed from all sides by ObamaCare, according to the head of the House Small Business Committee.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said that business owners aren’t getting the information they need to buy health insurance for their workers, and repeated delays to insurance marketplaces for small businesses are only making things worse.

“Small business owners who are subject to the law’s many mandates and face penalties and fines for noncompliance are perplexed, confused and sometimes unaware of what is expected of them,” he wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday.

“Each day seems to bring new challenges and a changing script.”

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The Obama administration previously had planned to roll out the insurance marketplace for small businesses, called the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), when general enrollment began on Oct. 1.

The date for the marketplaces to be fully functional was then pushed back to the beginning of November, giving the businesses a month and a half to sign up by Dec. 15 and have their employees covered by Jan. 1.

Because of how the signup process works, insurance coverage does not take effect for two weeks after enrollment.

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee this week, however, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said that the SHOP website would be up and running “at the end of November.”

That would give small businesses just a two-week window to log on and buy insurance for their employees by Jan. 1.

Graves said that isn’t enough time for “an already busy and burdened small business owner to learn about various insurance plans and make a decision” for their workers.

“The situation may be even more urgent for employers who are being informed that their current policies are being canceled due to the law’s requirements,” he added.

“The administration’s irresponsible pattern of misinformation, glitches and delays on the SHOPs has created additional confusion and uncertainty among our entrepreneurs,” Graves wrote.

The Affordable Care Act requires businesses with 50 or more full-time workers to offer them health insurance or pay a fine. That requirement was originally set to take effect in 2014, but was pushed back a year.