by Jack Minor
Last month the Government Accountability Office reported the Health and Human Services Department had granted nearly 1,400 waivers exempting organizations from Obamacare coverage requirements.
The waivers were granted for mini-med plans that have annual coverage limits. Under Obamacare requirements, companies can no longer offer these types of plans. The regulations would cause millions of people to loose existing health coverage. To prevent this, HHS issued waivers allowing people to keep their plans, despite the new mandates.
The GAO report showed that some of the plans had annual limits as high as $2 million. The report stated the only basis for obtaining a waiver, was that an organization said the regulations would causes people to lose coverage or suffer rate increases. The Gazette previously reported that a large number of the waivers were given to unions.
As of April 25, the government had only denied 67 out of 1,415 requests for waivers. This is an approval rate of over 95 percent.
Following the release of the report, the Obama administration announced they would no longer accept requests for waivers after Sept. 22. Steve Larsen, with the Health and Human Services Department, said the decision was “absolutely not” based on political considerations.
20 percent of the 204 waivers in April were issued to gourmet restaurants and hotels in Nancy Pelosi’s district. Among the restaurants are Boboquivari’s and Cafe Mason, which often charge $60 for a meal. Union exemptions amounted to 1 in 7 for the month.
Testifying before the House oversight Committee’s subcommittee on Health Care, Heritage Foundation health policy expert Edmund Haislmaier, said HHS had no authority under the law to issue waivers in the first place.
“The statute does not explicitly grant HHS authority to waive the application of this provision. In contrast, I count twenty-one other sections of PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) in which Congress did grant HHS explicit, new waiver authority with respect to specific provisions.” Haislmaier continued, “Thus, it is reasonable to presume that if Congress had intended the department to institute a waiver process as part of its implementation of this particular provision, Congress would have said so in the statute.”