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Obamacare for small businesses: online enrollment delayed a year

ObamaCare experienced another setback this week, delaying the sign up for small businesses, and reactions from supporters and critics couldn’t be more different.

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Obamacare to be delayed for small businesses

Late on Thanksgiving Eve, the Obama administration announced a one year delay of online enrollment for small businesses seeking to use the federal Obamacare exchanges to insure employees. The timing has been equated by some to a Friday night news dump (traditionally done by politicians in hopes that the weekend will sweep the issue under the rug), while others praise the administration for not waiting until after the holidays.

While most of the focus remains on the individual market, officials are prompting small business owners to sign up directly through an insurer, agent, or broker, which a spokesperson said “allows small employers to sign up for coverage through offline enrollment while [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] works on creating a smoothly functioning online experience in the SHOP Marketplace.”

The timing is what is making headlines tonight, especially given that just before the Fourth of July this year, the administration announced a delay in the requirement for big businesses to offer insurance to their staff.

Some call this timing part of a broader strategy, others say it is coincidence, but our focus is more on what those in favor of Obamacare and those opposed are saying about this delay:

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Marketplace is still the best price and quality

Small Business Majority CEO John Arensmeyer said in a statement, “It’s disappointing that the online portion of the federal small business marketplace through Healthcare.gov will be delayed and it’s important it get up and running as soon as possible. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the marketplace can offer the most competitive combination of price and quality for small businesses purchasing health insurance.”

Opponents’ celebration is not credible

“Today’s news is discouraging and fits into the larger mosaic of rollout difficulties,” MSNBC’s Steve Benen said, adding “but some of the anti-healthcare players dancing in the end zone this afternoon are lacking in credibility.”

Benen asserts that today’s news ia setback, but opposition celebration is premature. “First, the program for small businesses isn’t being delayed until 2014; the website is,” he said, noting that business owners can still get the plans and the tax breaks, but through brokers. For now.

Additionally, Benen notes that “this delay doesn’t affect states that already created their own exchanges, so for small businesses in a lot of ‘blue’ states, the announcement is irrelevant.”

He concludes, “for all the Republicans hoping for bad news, and crowing about the administration’s setbacks, the fact remains that under their approach, there would be no program to help small businesses, no coverage options, no tax breaks, and no website.”

Setting priorities

“What’s important in our work is to continue to prioritize the best consumer experience for those who are coming to us online,” Medicare spokeswoman Julie Bataille said, adding that “These decisions all reflect [that] reality.”

Improving the overall problems

Sy Mukherjee at ThinkProgress.org writes, “the delay is mostly a consequence of ongoing — but improving — problems with the Healthcare.gov website that made it difficult to devote appropriate resources to fix similar issues with the SHOP marketplace.”

Avoiding a nightmare

Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter said, “So yet another delay is frustrating, but at least we’ll be spared all the stories about what a nightmare the website is for small business owners signing up. And you know we would have been inundated with those horror stories.”

Survey says:

CNN reports, “Despite the website woes, a new CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday showed a majority of Americans believe the current Obamacare problems can be solved, and the figures for overall support and opposition remain little changed from a month ago.”

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Obama bit off more than he can chew

“The president bit off more than he can chew with this health care law, and small businesses are now forced to bear the consequences,” said Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) in a statement Wednesday evening.

“Business owners across the country are already having health care plans for their employees canceled by this law, and now they’re told they won’t have access to the system the president promised them to find different coverage. Instead, they’ll have to resort to a system you’d expect to see in the 1950s.”

It was obvious it wasn’t ready

House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) asserted the he has suspected the small business enrollment site (separate from the individual market) was nowhere near ready to launch.

In a statement, he said, “Based on the June GAO report on SHOPs readiness that I requested, we knew the administration was not prepared for the implementation, but this pattern of continued delay and disarray is especially disappointing. This mismanagement and inadequacy is causing the American people and small business owners to lose trust in their government’s ability to do just about anything.”

Making employers’ jobs tougher

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) affairs manager Kevin Kuhlman said in a statement, “This new delay announcement is a disappointment but not a surprise. Small businesses continue to be low on the priority list during the Obamacare implementation process.”

Kuhlman added, “It probably matters little to people in Washington that the failure to get the small business exchanges online adds yet another onerous paperwork requirement for job creators.”

“The continued delays add to uncertainty and contribute to the decision of many owners to take early renewals of their small-group plans,” Kuhlman concludes.

E. Neil Trautwein, NFIB’s VP said, “If the law is so burdensome for the administration to implement, just think how hard it is for small businesses.”

ObamaCare failure is more than a failed website

Republican National Committee chair Reince Preibus said, “While Americans prepare for the holidays and one day after President Obama gave another speech trying to blame the ObamaCare trainwreck on Republicans, his administration is delaying yet another portion of his signature healthcare law.”

Preibus also stated, “With each passing day, it’s clear how much worse ObamaCare is than a website full of glitches.”

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Business News

How remote work has changed over the last decade

(BUSINESS NEWS) let’s reflect on how remote working and telecommuting has changed in recent years and look to how it will continue to change in the 2020s.

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As someone who often works remote, it’s interesting to see how much that means for work has evolved. The increase in commonality has been steady, and shows no signs of slowing down. Go Remotely has developed an insightful graphic showing the changes in trends regarding remote work over the years.

“For decades, the established economy dictated that you should pick one job, visit the same office for the next 40 years, and then retire,” reads the graphic’s intro. “However, recent remote working stats suggest the working world might be in for some revolutionary changes.”

From there, the graphic is broken down into five facets: Flexible Workspace Policy, Entrepreneurial Minds, Telecommuting is a Growing Trend, The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World, and The Future of Telecommuting.

With Flexible Workspace Policy, its suggested that telecommuting could be a solution for costly issues including lack of productivity caused by employee distractions, health problems, etc. It is said that employers lose $1.8 trillion annually due to these issues.

The end of 2018 found 35 percent of the US workforce working remotely. This is only expected to climb. Ten percent of employees don’t know if their company offers flexible work policies (this is something to check into!)

Bills and laws for virtual jobs passed by governments reflect the need for accessibility, economic stability, and emigration concerns. Companies with flexible work policies have reported seeing increases in productivity and profits. (Funny those both start with pro, no?)

With Entrepreneurial Minds, a few interesting things found include: remote workers are less likely to take off if they are sick, the majority reports better productivity when working alone, the majority reported lower stress levels. However, there is a problem with not being able to unplug after work which is an issue for some.

Telecommuting is a Growing Trend finds that there has been a seven percent increase between 2012 and 2016, with the majority (80-100 percent) reporting they work remotely. Industries seen embracing remote work include: transportation, computer/information systems/mathematical, arts/design/entertainment/sports/media, finance/insurance/real estate, law or public policy, community/social services, science/engineering/architecture, manufacturing or construction, healthcare, education/training/library, and retail.

The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World finds that the pros to hiring remote workers includes: finding talent outside of your geographic area, improves retention on work/life balance, increases productivity by decreasing commute time, and saves money by requiring less office space. The cons include lack of timeliness when it comes to receiving information from employers.

Finally, the Future of Telecommuting suggests that in 2020 the US mobile worker population will surpass 105 million (and will account for 72 percent of the US workforce). Hiring managers predict that telecommuting will increase tremendously, most skills will become even more niche over the next decade, and many think that 38 percent of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade.

How do you feel about the increase in remote working and telecommuting?

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ClickUp team productivity app is gorgeous and wildly efficient

(BUSINESS NEWS) Seeking to improve your productivity and speed up your team, ClickUp is an inexpensive option for those obsessed with efficiency.

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Back again to obsess over productivity apps – ClickUp, is a project management tool seeking to knock the frustration out of PM. It’s getting some good reviews, so I gave it a try for a week by setting up my current job search as a project and getting a feel for the app. And as you’ve read in my other reviews, we will address features and design.

On the feature front, ClickUp offers a pretty standard set up of tools for a productivity app. What stands out first and foremost are the status options. In general, most productivity statuses are simple: not started, started, in progress, done, etc.

But ClickUp lets you set up custom statuses that match your workflow.

For example, if you’re doing instructional design projects, you may assign projects based on where they are flowing in an ADDIE model, or if you are a Realtor, you may have things cataloged by sold, in negotiation, etc.

Customization is king and custom status is the closest you get to building your own app. And if you like it simple, you don’t have to customize it. The assigned comments feature lets you follow up on specific comments that originate action items – which is useful in team collaborations.

You can also assign changes to multiple tasks at once, including changing statuses (I would bulk assign completion tasks when I finished applications that I did in batches). There a lot of features here, but the best feature is how the app allows you to toggle on and off features that you will or won’t use – once again, customization is front and center for this platform.

In terms of design and intuive use, ClickUp nailed it.

It’s super easy to use, and the concept of space is pretty standard in design thinking. If your organization uses Agile methodology, this app is ready for you.

In terms of view, you can declutter the features, but the three viewing modes (list, box, and board) can help you filter the information and make decisions quickly depending on what role you have on a board or project. There is also a “Me” board that removes all the clutter and focuses on your tasks – a great way to do focused productivity bursts. ClickUp describes itself as beautifully intuitive, and I can’t disagree – both the web app and mobile app are insanely easy to use.

No complaints here.

And the horizon looks good for ClickUp – with new features like image markup, Gannt charts (!!!!!! #nerdalert), and threaded comments for starts.

This application is great, and it’s got a lot of growth coming up to an already rich feature base. It’s free with 100MB of storage, but the $5 fee for team member per month that includes team onboarding and set up (say you’re switching from another platform) and Dropbox/Google Docs integration? That’s a bargain, Charlie.

ClickUp is on the way up and it’s got it all – features, a beautifully accessible UI, relentless customization, and lot of new and upcoming features. If you’re into the productivity platform and you’re looking for a new solution for your team, go check it out.

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Should you alter your business travel due to the Coronavirus?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Got a business trip coming up? Worried about the coronavirus spoiling those plans? Stay up to date and safe with this cool site!

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The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University has created a website that tracks one of the biggest trends of 2020: the coronavirus. Also known as 2019-nCoV, this disease has already spread to over 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with over 900 deaths (as of when this article was published, anyway.)

Not to mention, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that we still don’t know exactly how the virus spreads from person-to-person. In fact, there’s quite a bit we don’t know about this disease and although some people are reported as recovered, it’s only a small fraction compared to how many are sick.

So, what’s so great about this tracker? Well, first of all, it updates in real time, making it easy to keep track of everything we know about confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It’s chock full of statistics and visuals, making the information easy to digest. Plus, with a map front and center, it lets you know exactly where there have been reported outbreaks – and how many people have been diagnosed.

Because the site sticks to cold hard facts like statistics and maps, it also means you can avoid the racism and general panic that’s accompanied news of this outbreak.

This is a great tool for staying informed, but it’s also extremely helpful if you’re going to be traveling for work. As the virus continues to progress, you’ll be able to see just how many cases of coronavirus there are in the areas you’re planning to visit, which will allow you to plan accordingly. Even if you don’t feel the effects, you can still risk passing it to other people.

(In fact, the CDC recommends those traveling from certain areas in China practice “social distancing” when they return to the US, avoiding public spaces like grocery stores, malls and movie theaters.)

Of course, if you have something planned several months from now, don’t cancel your conference plans just yet. A lot can happen in that amount of time, so avoid the urge to check the website every couple hours. It’s supposed to be a tool for staying informed, not staying stressed out.

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