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Trump admin to let small businesses sign up directly for coverage

AP file photo

Here's one way the Trump administration is changing the way the Affordable Care Act will be enforced: It's letting small businesses enroll directly in health plans, rather than going through the HealthCare.gov website. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced today it will propose a rule allowing small businesses to enroll through insurance companies or through agents and brokers.

The back story: This is all about the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) marketplaces, a lesser-known part of the ACA that applies to small businesses rather than individuals. It has been a bit of a dud — it currently covers about 230,000 people, according to CMS, compared to the 4 million people the Congressional Budget Office had predicted. They'd still have to go to HealthCare.gov to get a determination that they're eligible.

Of note: Despite criticizing the ACA for failing to provide affordable coverage to small businesses, CMS didn't propose shutting down the program completely.

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