Trump Administration Scales Back Obamacare Options For Small Biz

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2015, file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said in a report released Wednesday, March 30, 2016, health insurers gained a sicker, more expensive patient population through the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion. Its report offers an early glimpse at customers who have gained coverage in the past couple years. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
Andrew Harnik/AP

Small businesses will no longer be able to use a platform on the HealthCare.gov Obamacare exchanges to offer their employees insurance plans, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The move to scale back the enrollment portal, known as the Small Business Health Options Program (or SHOP), has minimal practical import — it was used by some 8,000 employers to cover a cumulative 40,000 employees, according to the Journal — but symbolically it represents the Health and Human Service Department’s efforts to wind down certain administrative aspects of Obamacare, while Republican lawmakers seek to repeal parts of the law.

The roll back of the SHOP exchanges was announced by the Trump administration Monday in a statement in which Seema Verma, the director of Centers for Medicare/Medicaid, said that the “goal is to reduce ACA burdens on consumers and small businesses and make it easier for them to purchase coverage.”

The enrollment portal was originally created to allow workers at businesses with 50 employees or less to shop around for plans while using the contributions of their employers. According to the Journal, the platform was not utilized widely because the tax credits the ACA offered small businesses were not large enough to bring them to the exchange. Many employers sought to use private brokers to find plans instead, and under the new policy, they will still be able to use their tax credits when seeking plans through brokers.

The 17 states that run their own small business enrollment portals will also be unaffected by the Trump’s administration’s new policy, according to the Journal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.
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