Opinion

Will the two-waiver-a-day rule make Obamacare obsolete?

Alex Cortes Contributor

Will the Department of Health and Human Services’ current “two-waiver-a-day” rule keep Obamacare away, effectively waivering the law obsolete?

Yesterday, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and company issued their 729th year-long waiver from the law’s requirements since its enactment 310 days ago. The recipient list includes iconic institutions like Waffle House and political patrons like labor unions.

These arbitrary waivers are welcome news for employers that otherwise would have to drop employee coverage.

Will the Obama administration exempt all businesses from Obamacare’s damages by continuing its two-waiver-a-day rule into the future?

Not likely.

Until Obamacare’s full implementation in 2014, issuing a year-long waiver is relatively harmless, from the government’s perspective, as it doesn’t alter the law’s long-term viability. However, when the law finally kicks into high gear, the leftists are going to want to bask in its full glory and let the two-waiver-a-day rule waiver-away.

One only has to look to the two areas where waivers are now being issued to see why.

The first area of exemption is from the ban on limited benefit plans, which forces employers that provide these plans to do one of two things: 1) provide comprehensive coverage at significantly greater costs to employees; or 2) drop employee plans entirely. Neither scenario is pretty. Unfortunately, both are already playing out.

In September, McDonald’s made public that the provision had forced the company to seriously consider dropping the limited health plans it offers to its 30,000 employees. Not surprisingly, Obama’s bureaucrats swiftly issued McDonald’s a waiver.

Ultimately, the leftists want to see these plans dropped so that individuals can instead receive more comprehensive government-run insurance. But for now, if people are dropped, they will be left to fend for themselves, a politically untenable situation. However, in 2014, when the government subsidies kick in, the government waivers will kick out.

The second area of exemption is from the medical loss ratio requirement that health plans must spend at least 85% of premiums on actual health care. For limited benefit plans, administrative costs, including insurer’s profits, are relatively high and often exceed this arbitrary limit, forcing employers to drop such uneconomical coverage and insurers to leave a marketplace that doesn’t pay them adequately.

Once again, a limited number of special interest groups have already received year-long waivers from this statist requirement. However, when 2014 rolls around, the waivers will roll away because the leftists want everyone on government-run plans and the “evil” insurance companies to go out of business.

For these reasons, it would be imprudent to trust the Department of Health and Human Services to let Obamacare waiver-away. However, the new Republican Congress does have the power to tie the hands of these bureaucrats and defund their ability to implement the government takeover of our health care system.

Let’s pray they exercise this power liberally.

Alex Cortes is the Chairman of Restore the Dream Foundation, whose initiative DeFundIt.org advocates for the defunding of Obamacare.