Graves calls lack of information on SHOP marketplace “frustrating”

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said on Friday that the announcement that there is no enrollment data available for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) was “frustrating.”

The SHOP marketplace was designed to make it easier for small business owners to offer health coverage to employees by plugging them into a marketplace that allows them to choose a level of coverage and premium payments that fit their needs.

Graves, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee, requested information on SHOP program enrollment in June from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.

CMS responded that the online portal for the federally facilitated SHOP marketplace was expected to be launched in November and would offer plans that begin in January. In the meantime, CMS said it trained 78,000 insurance agents and brokers to ease the transition and help individuals and employers understand and navigate marketplace enrollment.

“The mismanagement of the Small Business Health Options Program is very frustrating,” Graves said. “The administration isn’t able to answer even the most basic questions about the program’s enrollment, or its progress. Going back to last year, the program’s delays and lack of choices have contributed to headache after headache for small businesses who are trying to follow all of the twists and turns of the program. It’s astonishing how little information has been disclosed about a law in which the taxpayers are investing billions. What is the administration hiding?”

Graves also requested enrollment data from Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in January, but he was told in March that the information was unavailable.