Nightly News   |  November 27, 2013

More bad news about Healthcare.gov

The Obama administration announced Wednesday that small businesses will have to wait a year before they can use the federal website to enroll workers in health insurance through a program called SHOP. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> even before all the problems with the health care website, the obama white house has been counting on a surge of sorts in sign-ups for the health care plan this very weekend and beyond. the idea was to hear the president tell it, families around the thanksgiving dinner table would discuss it and maybe even persuade some of the young healthy family members to sign up. now the hope is any kind of surge won't crash the site which is working better, but it's still fragile. there is a new setback for small businesses trying to sign up their employees. nbc news white house correspondent kristen welker has more on that end of the story. good evening.

>> reporter: brian, good evening. today's announcement is particularly problematic because it comes just a few days before the deadline by which the administration said the website would be working well for most americans. now on the eve of thanksgiving, a new problem. as official washington prepares to start a long holiday weekend against a stormy backdrop, the white house chose to release more bad news about health care .gov. the administration announced small businesses will have to wait a year before they can use the federal website to enroll their workers in health insurance through a program called shop. those with 50 or fewer employees will have to sign up the old fashioned way.

>> small businesses will be able to enroll directly in a shop plan through an insurer, agent or broker and can get certified for a tax credit after they enroll.

>> reporter: the administration said the delay was necessary to give its tech team time to fix the troubled website for individual users and noted most small businesses already use broke rs and agents.

>> you need to talk to your agent and figure it out. that's daunting. it's insulting and it really adds to a sense of uncertainty that's already a problem in this sector.

>> reporter: republicans pounced. house speaker john boehner release add statement that reads in part, the president bit off more than he can chew with this health care law and small businesses are now forced to bear the consequences. with democrats facing heat over a launch plagued by problems, some knowledacknowledged this latest setback makes it difficult to defend.

>> we'll have to get past it. the overall project is too important to allow ourselves to be discouraged.

>> reporter: but at parlor steakhouse in new york city , owner michael glik said he's lost confidence in the website and the president.

>> as a law in itself and the implementation, it's a disaster. very confusing. it's sc ee's scaring individuals and companies. in my opinion it's a jobs killer.

>> reporter: the administration says tech experts will work through the holiday weekend to try to get the website running smoothly by december 1st . the goal is to have it support as many as 50,000 users at one time. that's nearly twice the volume it currently handles. officials insist they are on track to do that. brian?

>> kristen welker at the white house for us. thanks.