Blog Post

Lawmakers Suspect "Politicization" of ObamaCare Waivers

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist

Lawmakers are calling for a congressional investigation of the granting of waivers by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to companies who do not want to comply with ObamaCare's ban on annual coverage limits, some of which were unions who contributed heavily to Obama's election campaign.

CNSNews.com is reporting that 28 local chapters of the powerful United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) have received waivers exempting them from a requirement under the new health care law that bans annual limits on what insurance plans will pay for medical coverage.

The UFCW’s political action committee spent $673,309 in independent expenditures promoting the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Their Union Active Ballot Club contributed $1.8 million to Democratic congressional candidates in 2008 and $1.7 in 2010.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is now promising to seek more information from the HHS about who has applied for these waivers, who has received them, and on what grounds the waivers were granted or denied.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently told CNSNews.com he believed a congressional investigation will show the waivers were politicized.

“You’re going to find out that by the president doing that with the secretary of HHS, he violated one of his main principles when he ran for office--and that was that special interests were not going to have an 'in' in his administration,” Grassley said. “And this is a perfect example of special interests having an 'in' in his administration when they get those waivers.”

The HHS claims it is granting waivers to company based on the determination that "compliance in the interim final regulations would result in a significant decrease in access to benefits or a significant decrease in access to benefits or a significant increase in premiums,” according to a Sept. 3 memo by Steve L. Larson, director of the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

Thus far, the HHS has granted 733 waivers that cover 2.2 million people.

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