If you knew a dangerous virus was about to hit America and that you could beg the government for a vaccine, you’d probably do it, wouldn’t you? That’s just what states and businesses alike are doing right now in preparation for Obamacare. But rather than seeking a vaccine, they’re asking for waivers from the law’s onerous requirements.
To date, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has approved 1,372 Obamacare waivers, covering 3.1 million Americans. Yesterday, The Daily Caller reported that among HHS’s most recent round of 204 Obamacare waivers, “38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.” That’s right: Nearly 20 percent of exemptions from Pelosi’s crowning health care achievement were doled out in her backyard.
If that’s not enough irony for you, try this waiver on for size: On Monday, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Nevada—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state—received a partial statewide Obamacare waiver, too. If you’re keeping score, Reid was Pelosi’s counterpart in the Senate fighting to get Obamacare passed into law. Now his state will be one of three to get a waiver from the law’s requirements, while the rest of America suffers.
Why did Nevada get a waiver? The Sun reports that HHS found that some of the law’s implementation requirements “may lead to the destabilization of the individual market.” Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) said that that’s all the more reason why Obamacare should be repealed:
It is becoming increasingly clear how flawed this law really is . . . Not only did it cut a half trillion dollars from Medicare, impacting thousands of Nevada’s seniors, now the law would have driven health insurers out of our state if a reprieve had not been granted . . . This is why ‘Obamacare’ will not work for Nevada.”
But Pelosi’s district and Reid’s home state aren’t the only ones getting waivers. There are others getting a break from the law, too—big corporations and labor unions.
All these waivers might sound like a lot to you, especially since most of the law’s provisions don’t take effect until 2014. But if you ask the White House, they’ll tell you that it’s no big deal. In a press briefing yesterday, press secretary Jay Carney downplayed the waivers and said that it’s “not that many” and that “[t]he waiver is not a waiver of the law” but just a “provision of the law.” Well, that’s one way to spin it.
The Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn Nix explains why some of the waivers are being granted:
Obamacare forbids insurers from placing annual and lifetime limits on health plans. These “consumer protections” have endangered the limited coverage plans that some employers currently offer. Unable to provide more comprehensive coverage, those employers would be forced to drop coverage altogether if they abide by the new law. To avoid this consequence of the new law, employers are flocking to secure the waivers offered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to keep their employees covered.
In the case of waivers for businesses, Heritage’s Ed Haislmaier recently testified that the Obama Administration doesn’t really have the authority to grant them in the first place. In the case of state insurance markets, Congress explicitly allows a waiver, which is an admission that they knew the legislation would be disruptive.
It makes sense that labor unions, states and companies of all sizes want to escape Obamacare’s costly requirements. That’s because it’s clear that Obamacare already isn’t working, even though the law is barely out of the gate. But granting waivers here and there merely postpones the effects of the law for a couple of years. It’s not the solution America needs. A better idea would be to repeal Obamacare and grant America a permanent nationwide waiver.
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