ObamaCare waiver process will devastate small businesses by Nancy Thorner and Jane Keill

May 28, 2011

There seems to be no criteria used by Health and Human Services (HHS) in granting or denying waivers to excuse insurers from provisions mandated by ObamaCare.  Many applicants have been refused but why?  And just who gets them?

The list of ObamaCare waivers keeps growing longer and longer, with the “chosen” benefiting from government waiver breaks from costly ObamaCare regulations. Most readers of my blog posting are astute enough to know that ObamaCare waivers are being granted, but are they really up-to-date with the magnitude and the nature of those granted so far?  

The latest waivers were granted by the HHS on May 17, at which time “Medigap” policy provider American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) was exempted from oversight in publicly releasing and explaining health care payment rate increases as required under the ObamaCare rate review rules.

Not to be forgotten is that AARP was a supporter of ObamaCare as passage of ObamaCare as a way to help eliminate competition for AARP’s supplemental insurance program (Medigap). 

To bring readers up to date, since April more than 204 companies have been granted waivers.  Of the 204 waivers, 38 of them were for fancy restaurants, luxury hotels, nightclubs and spas in Nancy Pelosi’s California House District.  The fact that Nancy Pelosi’s district received nearly 20% of the waivers might look bad, but to Nancy Pelosi why would favoritism even be suggested?

This brings the total number of waivers granted by HHS to 1,371 organizations, companies, towns and even states.  Well-known companies with ObamaCare waivers include MacDonald’s, Red Lobster, Olive Gardens, Dish Network, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Humana.  States include Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio Tennessee, and Nevada. 

Unions are also well represented on the waiver list, including President Obama’s favorite, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union); the United Federation of Teachers (NY); the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Why the stampede for ObamaCare waiver exemptions?  Wasn’t ObamaCare suppose to cut health care costs? 

To the contrary, it is because the ObamaCare rules which must begin this year and be completed by 2013 are so onerous and expensive that employers are appealing to the government to put them in abeyance because the costs are too high for them to absorb.

As waivers exemptions are only granted for one year, is it just coincidental that another request for waivers will come due just before the November Presidential election in 2012?  You don’t think HHS would make any quid pro quo requirements before issuing a continuance of the waivers?

What about small stores and businesses who don’t have the time and money needed to apply or lack the clout to be considered for waivers? 

Small businesses in Illinois are already experiencing hard times.  In many Illinois communities shuttered store fronts are the norm as the economy continues to remain south.  Many small businesses — the engines of job growth — will find prohibitive the added cost of providing health care to their employees which will necessitate layoffs to keep doors open for business.

The #1 question remains, if ObamaCare was promoted as affordable health care for all Americans, why are some Americans allowed a waiver while others are not!  Why are some organization required to implement the health care act while others are not?

Where is the level playing field, or was it ever meant to be, with a government that increasingly feels justified in picking winners and losers based on political calculations that will sweeten the pot for would be voters in the upcoming 2012 presidential election. 

 So far there has been much talk and little action.  Where is the leadership that was demanded of Republicans when they won back the U.S. House in the 2010 November elections


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