WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a one-year delay in a major element of the new health-care law that would allow small businesses to buy insurance online for their employees through the new federal marketplace, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
It was yet another setback for the rollout of the health-care law and resulted, in part, from the well-documented problems of the insurance marketplace website. Administration officials said they had to focus on the basic functions of the website so that individuals could shop for insurance before offering online enrollment for small businesses. In the meantime, businesses and their employees can apply through brokers.
Many employees of small businesses are uninsured, and the businesses themselves are much less likely than big companies to provide coverage to workers and their families, according to the report.
The latest delay, coming just as the White House was boasting of major improvements in the health-insurance website, HealthCare.gov, opens the door to more complaints about the health care law and could increase pressure to delay other provisions.
“The president bit off more than he can chew with this health care law, and small businesses are now forced to bear the consequences,” said Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, as cited by the newspaper. “Business owners across the country are already having health care plans for their employees canceled by this law, and now they’re told they won’t have access to the system the president promised them to find different coverage. Instead, they’ll have to resort to a system you’d expect to see in the 1950s.”
It was not the first delay for small businesses. The administration had previously delayed online enrollment for them to the end of this month from Oct. 1.
The date has now been pushed back to November 2014 for coverage that takes effect in January 2015, according to the Health and Human Services Department.