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Kind disappointed in HHS "SHOP" health insurance delay


WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSAU) -  One of the health insurance exchange options for small businesses is being delayed in Washington, and that has a Wisconsin Congressman disappointed.

3rd District Representative Ron Kind had offered the SHOP, or Small Business Health Options Program Exchange which was incorporated into the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. Kind says the SHOP program would be a health care exchange where health insurance would be more affordable for self-employed individuals and small businesses, and family farmers.

Kind says SHOP was to be fully implemented next year, but the Federal Department of Health and Human Services has proposed eliminating this option for 2014. “The Department of Health and Human Services is saying that there would at least be one plan that small businesses can purchase next year, but then that lacks the competition you need in the insurance market. That’s why I was disappointed that the full pool wouldn’t be up and going until 2015, one year later.”

The Congressman believes having only one health insurance exchange available is going to make costs too expensive for many of the people in this market. “We do need that competition in the marketplace to help drive prices down, so if you’re only offering one plan for small businesses to go to, that’s not much of a choice at all. That’s why I was expressing my disappointment. We’re going to continue to work with the Department (HHS) to see if we can expedite this and if we can move the time frame up.”

Kind is hopeful that Wisconsin will eventually run its own health care exchanges, but that’s not likely to happen. Governor Scott Walker has said he will not accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid and wants the federal government to set up it’s own health care exchanges for Obamacare. During a stop in Wausau last week, Walker confirmed he is not changing his decision.

Kind says The Affordable Care Act does not require small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to provide coverage to their workers, although small businesses that do offer coverage will be eligible for a larger 50 percent tax credit to make coverage more affordable starting in 2014.