Politics
U.S. health secretary Kathleen Sebelius gestures during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 17, 2011.  Sebelius is in Geneva to attend the annual meeting of the World Health Organization, WHO. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus) U.S. health secretary Kathleen Sebelius gestures during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 17, 2011. Sebelius is in Geneva to attend the annual meeting of the World Health Organization, WHO. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)  

GAO releases Obamacare waiver analysis, still no clear rhyme or reason to process

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

The Obama administration, which touts itself as the “most transparent” in American history, was dealt another blow on Tuesday with the release of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis of the Obamacare waiver decision-making process.

The GAO trend analysis still leaves unanswered questions as to how Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is actually determining who receives waivers from Obamacare’s requirements and who does not. There is still no definite procedure or set of criteria.

The waivers GAO analyzed were year-long passes from Obamacare’s annual limit requirements. These require companies and other health insurance providers like labor unions to increase the minimum dollar amount of coverage they provide for policyholders each year through 2014, at which point they won’t be allowed to put dollar amount limits on health insurance plans.

No more Obamacare annual limit waivers will be issued after 2014, which has raised more concerns as to what happens to the workers whose companies can’t afford to provide no-limit health insurance.

So far, more than 3 million Americans are estimated to be benefiting from a year-long pass from Obamacare’s annual limit requirements. HHS has denied waivers that would have benefited 150,000 Americans.

Colin Hanna, the president of conservative group Let Freedom Ring, denounced the Obama administration for a stench of “crony capitalism.” Hanna’s organization put together a website campaign, WheresMYWaiver.com, to raise awareness for how certain groups with close political ties to the Obama administration are benefiting from waivers while the rest of the country has to endure the new regulations already.

(CAN DO: Obamacare doesn’t stop Medigap providers, AARP partners from discriminating against seniors)

“We are a nation of equal protection under the law, and either every American should be exempt from Obamacare’s harm or none should,” Hanna said in a statement. “But the Obama administration has ridiculously decided to leave 150,000 Americans in the dust while many of its union and San Francisco allies skate on by with waivers, a reality that reeks of crony capitalism.”

At least the appearance of political favoritism, if not actual crony capitalism, has been a major flaw with the Obama administration’s handling of who’s getting Obamacare waivers and who isn’t. Back in May, TheDC discovered that posh entertainment venues in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district got about 20 percent of the April slew of Obamacare waivers, and labor unions have been benefiting from the free passes for a much longer time.