Small businesses in Texas may lose the ability to enroll their employees into health insurance plans using the federal marketplaces Small Business Health Options Program next year.

SHOP, created as part of the Affordable Care Act, aimed to make it easier for companies with 50 or fewer full-time employees to provide health and dental coverage.On Monday, federal health officials said they plan to scale back the program, in part,because too few businesses participated.

Nationwide, approximately 27,000 employers have active coverage through the program, generating coverage for nearly 230,000 individuals, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid said.

Those numbers fall significantly short of estimates, and the program is unlikely to reach expectations at its current pace, stated a document from the CMS earlier this week.

Texas has a population of about 28 million people. But it had just 1,158 businesses enrolled in SHOP plans in 2017, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

The bottom line is that whether we’re talking about individuals or businesses, sign-ups for Obamacare are well below expectations, he said during the off-camera Q&A.

Local representatives of the National Federation of Independent Business said the group’s federal policy team is aware of the potential changes, but that it is too early to comment on the potential impact.

“We just don’t have data yet and haven’t surveyed our members,” said Will Newton, who heads the Texas division. About24,000 businesses are members statewide.

The CMS said the option to enroll online via healthcare.gov would be removed. Small employers would need to turn to an agent, broker or the issuer of their choice in order to access coverage for plans beginning Jan. 1.

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