Click to enlarge Only Kaiser Permanente applied, so Clark, Cowlitz firms can use exchangeThe state also intended to launch on Oct. 1 its Small Business Health Options Program. However, only one insurer submitted plans to join the business exchange — Kaiser Permanente Northwest.As a result, the small-business exchange will only be offered in Clark and Cowlitz counties, where Kaiser already has a service network, said Richard Onizuka, chief executive officer for Washington Health Benefit Exchange.The program is designed to operate similar to the individual exchange. The program provides small businesses — those with fewer than 50 employees — with a bigger tax credit if they purchase insurance for their employees through the exchange.Currently, the Affordable Care Act gives small businesses a 35 percent tax credit for providing health insurance. If businesses purchase coverage offered in the SHOP exchange, the credit goes up to 50 percent, Onizuka said.“We were disappointed in the fact that we didn’t get the carriers in the SHOP plan,” he said.Initially, four or five different insurance carriers indicated they would join, but only Kaiser submitted a plan, Onizuka said. Officials with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange heard two main reasons for the change of heart, he said.