White House spokesman Jay Carney downplayed reports on Thursday that small business will not be able to enroll online to join Obamacare's insurance exchanges on Oct. 1
Carney said that business would be able to enroll via mail and that the delay in online enrollment would have little practical effect.
“What is absolutely true is that on Oct. 1, everyone will be able to enroll one way or another,” he said.
Carney added that businesses, unlike individuals, have an open enrollment period to sign up for the new health care exchanges, which he said was a key distinction.
“It's forever open, a monthly process,” he said. “They will be able to apply for the tax credits Oct. 1 and they will be able to enroll for these programs Nov. 1.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday also minimized the significance of the latest delay, noting that small business owners would still be able to go online on Oct. 1 and view their options for purchasing insurance plans.
The businesses “on Nov. 1 can go on and actually enroll in the plan that's best for their employees,” she said Thursday on MSNBC's “Now with Alex Wagner.”
The delay for online enrollment for small firms, first reported by the Associated Press and Politico, is the latest setback for the president's signature legislative achievement.
Small business owners will not be able to enroll online starting Oct. 1, as previously planned. Instead, they will initially have to mail or fax their information so that they can enroll, the AP reported.
Over the summer, the administration said it would delay the mandate that forces employers with at least 50 full-time employees to provide affordable insurance or pay a penalty, as well as the cap on out-of-pocket costs.
The timing of the reports was awkward for the administration, coming as while Obama was delivering an address in which he argued Obamacare is “here to stay.”
“Go check it out for yourself; make up your own mind,” he told an audience at a community college in Maryland.