Politico with the scoop on the latest in a string of Obamacare setbacks:
[T]he Obama administration today will announce a yearlong delay of online enrollment for small businesses looking to purchase health coverage through federal-run exchanges, according to an HHS notice obtained by POLITICO.
Small businesses have been able to apply through paper applications since Oct. 1, and HHS will announce alternative sign-up methods, like enrolling through an agent or broker or directly through an insurer. ... The administration originally delayed online enrollment in the federal-run small-businesses exchanges, known as SHOP, just days before the failed Oct. 1 launch of HealthCare.gov. At the time, HHS said online enrollment would be available “sometime in November.” Weeks ago, administration officials said online enrollment would be ready by the end of November.
The delay is to the online exchange—small businesses will still be able to buy coverage for employees through a broker or agent—and only applies to the SHOP exchanges run by the federal government, which cover three dozen states. (The SHOPs in states running their own exchanges, meanwhile, have had a much smoother rollout—not unlike many of the state exchanges for individuals).
An official announcement from HHS is expected later today. As the New York Times points out, news of the delay—just as many Americans are heading home (or at least trying to) for the Thanksgiving holiday—is reminiscent of the way the White House announced in the lead-up to the Independence Day Weekend that they were delaying the requirement for larger employers to offer insurance to employees by one year.
The announcement is also likely to be lost in the shuffle somewhat given those who are still paying attention to the healthcare rollout over the holidays will be focused on the White House's self-imposed, somewhat soft Nov. 30 deadline to have healthcare.gov up and running smoothly.