Have you noticed that the repeal of Obamacare is no longer treated as something far-fetched? It’s smart of the House GOP to get the votes on record before the State of the Union message.
But it’s going to be tricky-President Obama is likely to have a good rhetorical comeback. But the pro-repeal side has lots of good comebacks in its arsenal, too: One of them concerns the unequal treatment of friends and foes of the administration’s policies. Karl Rove has a good piece this morning on this issue. For example, do you belong to a union?
One of these effects is the spectacle of employers going hat-in-hand to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for waivers from some of the law’s more onerous provisions.
In September, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius began granting waivers to companies that provided workers “mini-med” coverage-low-cost plans with low annual limits on what the insurance will pay out. This followed announcements by some employers that they would have to drop these plans because they did not meet the new health law’s requirement that 85% of premium income be spent on medical expenses.
By early December, HHS had granted 222 such waivers to provide mini-med policies for companies including AMF Bowling and Universal Forest Product, as well as 43 union organizations. According to the department’s website, the waivers cover 1,507,418 employees, of which more than a third (525,898) are union members. Yet unionized workers make up only 7% of the private work force. Whatever is going on here, a disproportionately high number of waivers are being granted to administration allies.
If you don’t belong to a union, perhaps you can get special treatment for having supported the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
The Obama administration’s behavior to date suggests that it will not hesitate to take care of its friends. The Senate Republican Policy Committee’s health policy analyst, Chris Jacobs, points out that the administration has already given an extravagant gift to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), a key player in passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The AARP provided a big chunk of the $121 million spent on ads supporting the bill’s passage, as well as $21 million on lobbying in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. HHS’s proposed regulations on Dec. 21 exempted the AARP’s lucrative “Medigap” plans from the rate review and other mandates and requirements.
I noted yesterday that the new health care law bans physician-owned hospitals, a provision tucked into the largely unread bill that helps the American Hospital Association (AHA), which supported Obamacare and doesn’t like competition.