Monday, May 16, 2011

Waiver Wire: Over Half of Obamacare Waiver Recipients Union Members

Late Friday afternoon the Administration engaged in another “document dump,” announcing the approval of another 221 waivers of annual and lifetime limit requirements included in the health care law, bringing the total to 1,372. (A full list is available here.)  The plans newly approved for waivers cover more than 160,000 people, bringing to nearly 3.1 million the number of individuals in plans exempted from the health law’s requirements.  Of the participants receiving waivers, more than half – over 1.55 million – are in union plans, raising questions of why such a disproportionate share of union members are receiving waivers from the law’s requirementsThe percentage of participants receiving waivers that come from unions also continues to rise – the number was 48% in April, and 45% in March.

On a related note, the Administration also granted waivers to New Hampshire and Nevada regarding the medical loss ratio requirements in the health care law, on top of the waiver already granted to Maine.  Another eight states still have their own waiver applications pending before HHS. (Just to clarify, the medical loss ratio waivers are separate and distinct from the annual and lifetime limit waivers – it is however confusing to keep all of Obamacare’s various waiver programs straight.)

Both these developments again raise the question:  If the law is so popular, and the “consumer protections” so beneficial, then why do plans need to be exempted from them in the first place?