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Obamacare waivers: Torquemada Sebelius spares McDonald’s, unions

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 6, 2010 09:40 AM

After an embarrassing leak about the dire potential consequences of forcing one of America’s largest companies to abide by onerous Obamacare coverage mandates, HHS Secretary Kathleen “Torquemada” Sebelius decided that McDonald’s, a major teachers union, and several other firms deserved a break today.

Old promise: Everyone gets to keep their health insurance.

New promise: You can keep your health insurance…if you BEG hard enough for an Obamacare waiver.

Will only high-powered, politically connected corporations and Big Labor groups be spared? Where’s the transparency in how these decisions are being made?

Who’s next?

Almost a million workers, a third of them members of New York’s teachers union, were left out of a consumer protection in U.S. health law meant to cap insurance costs after the government exempted their employers.

Thirty companies and organizations, including Jack in the Box Inc. and the United Federation of Teachers, won’t be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low- cost health plans covering seasonal, part-time or low-wage employees. The Department of Health and Human Services said it granted waivers in late September so workers with minimum plans would keep coverage without major premium increases. The agency provided the list of exemptions.

“The big political issue here is the president promised no one would lose the coverage they’ve got,” Robert Laszewski, chief executive officer of consulting company Health Policy and Strategy Associates, said by telephone. “Here we are a month before the election, and these companies represent 1 million people who would lose the coverage they’ve got, so the administration can’t fall into that trap.”

The biggest single waiver, for 351,000 people, was for the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund, a New York union providing coverage for city teachers. The United Agricultural Benefit Trust, the California-based cooperative that offers coverage to farm workers, got to exempt 17,347 people. San Diego-based Jack in the Box’s waiver is for 1,130 workers, while McDonald’s Corp. asked to excuse 115,000.

Yep: The only way for hundreds of thousands of workers to keep their health insurance is to give them an emergency escape hatch from Obamacare.

Heckuva job, Democrats.

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