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The real snow job in D.C.: Obamacare waivers skyrocket to 729 + 4 states; 4 new SEIU waiver winners

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 26, 2011 08:20 PM

The nation’s capital is freaking out over a winter snowstorm.

But everyone else should be up in arms over the real snow job in Washington this week.

While the Democrats continued to extol Obamacare and the president defended the behemoth law during the Date of the Union, HHS was quietly presiding over a massive Obamacare Waiver-mania explosion.

When last we examined the growing list, privileged escapees topped 222.

Now: The list now at 729 — plus 4 states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Tennessee).

Among the many new union refugees are 4 new SEIU locals :

-SEIU Health and Welfare fund, 2000 with 161 enrollees

-Service Employees 32BJ North Health Benefit Fund* representing 7,020 enrollees

-SEIU Local 300, Civil Service Forum Employees Welfare Fund representing 2,000 enrollees

-SEIU Health & Welfare Fund representing 1,620

This is in addition to the three other previous SEIU waiver winners: Local 25 SEIU in Chicago with 31,000 enrollees; Local 1199 SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund with 4,544 enrollees; and SEIU Local 1 Cleveland Welfare Fund with 520 enrollees.

Which brings the total number of Obamacare-promoting SEIU Obamacare escapees to an estimated 45,000 workers represented by seven SEIU locals.

HHS puts the total number of union waiver recipients at 182:

Collectively-Bargained Employer-Based Plan Applicants: Most of the other health plans receiving waivers are multi-employer health funds created by a collective bargaining agreement between a union and two or more employers, pursuant to the Taft-Hartley Act. These “union plans” are employment based group health plans and operate for the sole benefit of workers. They tend to be larger than other typical group health plans because they cover multiple employers. There are also single-employer union plans that have received a waiver. In total, 182 collectively-bargained plans have received waivers.

The rest:

Of all the waivers granted to date:

* Employment-Based Coverage: The vast majority – 712 plans representing 97 percent of all waivers – were granted to health plans that are employment-related.

o Self-Insured Employer Plans Applicants: Employer-based health plans received most of the waivers – 359.

o Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): HRAs are employer-funded group health plans where employees are reimbursed tax-free for qualified medical expenses up to a maximum dollar amount for a coverage period. In total, HHS has approved 171 applications for waivers for HRAs.

* Health Insurers: Sixteen waivers were granted to health insurers, which can apply for a waiver for multiple mini-med products sold to employers or individuals.

* State Governments: Four waivers have gone to State governments. States may apply for a waiver of the restricted annual limits on behalf of issuers of state-mandated policies if state law required the policies to be offered by the issuers prior to September 23, 2010.

***

A snort-worthy new escapee: Obamacare sympathizers at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, whose board of trustees includes Obama health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle.

Culture of Corruption – DeParle flashback:

Former Kansas Democrat Governor Kathleen Sebelius won Senate confirmation as Health and Human Services Secretary. But the real power lies with with newly-created health czar Nancy-Ann Min DeParle. Her official title: Director of the White House Office for Health Reform.

DeParle ran the behemoth Medicare and Medicaid programs under Bill Clinton. She parlayed her government experience into a lucrative private-sector stint. Over the past three years, she made nearly $6 million from her work in the health care industry. Despite President Obama’s loud denunciations of the revolving-door lobbyist culture in Washington, DeParle’s industry ties didn’t bother the White House.

She served as an investment advisor at JP Morgan Partners, LLC; sat on the board of directors at Boston Scientific Corporation; and held directorships at Accredo Health Group Inc., Triad Hospitals (now part of Community Health Systems), and DaVita Corporation. In all, she sat on at least ten boards while advising JP Morgan and working as managing director at a private equity firm, CCMP Capital.

From 2002 to 2008, while holding all those titles, DeParle also served as a member of the government-chartered Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC), an influential panel that advises Congress on what Medicare should cover and at what price. Last month, former MedPAC member DeParle cozily announced that Obama was “open to making recommendations of [MedPAC] mandatory unless opposed by a joint resolution of Congress.”

Obama famously signed an early executive order requiring appointees to pledge not to participate “in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to any former employer or former clients” for a period of two years from the date of his or her appointment. But it’s hard to imagine any health care reform-related issue that won’t involve one of DeParle’s former employers, clients, and corporate boards in the health care industry. She earned at least $376,000 from Cerner Corporation, for example, which specializes in health information technology. As health czar, DeParle has unmeasured clout in directing $19 billion of federal stimulus money earmarked for, yes, health information technology.

Last week, a Washington, D.C. citizen watchdog filed suit to force the White House to disclose which health care lobbyists and executives it had met with this year to discuss insurance takeover legislation. White House counsel Greg Craig refused to disclose which administration officials attended the meetings. But at least two of the industry visitors have ties to DeParle. William C. Weldon is chairman of Johnson & Johnson, which paid DeParle $7,500 for a recent speech. Wayne Smith is chief executive of Community Health Systems, which merged with Triad Hospitals – where DeParle served on the board of directors. DeParle’s options were converted to cash payments worth $1.05 million.

Despite Obama’s lip service to transparency, the public is in the dark about which assets DeParle has divested and how many times, if any, DeParle has recused herself from policy matters and meetings. Czardom has its privileges.

***

More details on the union recipients:

Allied Building Inspectors IUOE Local 211 Welfare Fund

Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Ironworkers Local Union No. 60*

Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Ironworkers Local Union No. 60*

Employer-Teamsters Local Nos. 175 & 505 Health and Welfare Fund

IBEW Local 3 NYC Electrical Division Health & Welfare Fund

Indiana Area UFCW Union Locals and Retail Food Employers’ Health and Welfare Plan

Laborers’ District Council of Virginia Health and Welfare Trust Fund

Laborers National Health and Welfare Fund

Local 1245 Health Fund

Local 295 Welfare Fund

Local 381 Group Insurance Fund

Local 805 Welfare Fund

Pipe Fitters’ Welfare Fund, Local 597*

District Council 1707 Local 389 Home Care Employees Health & Welfare Fund

Health and Welfare Plan of the Laundry, Dry Cleaning Workers & Allied Industry Health Fund, Workers United

Northern Illinois and Iowa Laborers Health and Welfare Fund

United Food and Commercial Workers Retail Employees and Employers Health and Welfare Plan

Board of Trustees for the Operating Engineers Local 101 Health and Welfare Fund

Carpenters Local No. 491 Health & Welfare Plan

Central Laborers’ Welfare Fund

Electrical Workers Health and Welfare Fund

Health Care Employees Dental and Medical Trust

Hotel, Restaurant & Bar Employees Health and Welfare Fund

IBEW Local Union No. 126 Health and Welfare Fund

International Union of Operating Engineers, Supplemental Benefit Fund Local 409*

Local 888 UFCW

Midwest Teamsters

Northern Minnesota-Wisconsin Area Retail Food Health & Welfare Fund

Roofers Local #96 Health & Welfare Fund

Security Benefit Fund of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of New York City

Roofers Local 8 Insurance & Trust Fund

***

The HHS list has been completely re-numbered and re-ordered, so it’s difficult to delineate where the new enlistees end. Here’s just a sampling/reminder of other union beneficiaries of Waiver-mania:

Teamsters Union Local # 35

U.A. Local 13 & Employers Group Insurance Plan*

UFCW & Participating Food Industry Employers Tri-State Health & Welfare Fund

UFCW Local 1500 Welfare Fund

UFCW Local One Health Care Fund

Local 237 Teamsters Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. Health and Welfare Trust Fund

Roofers Local #96 Health & Welfare Fund

Superior Officers Council Health and Welfare Fund

Service Employees International Union Local 1 Cleveland Welfare Fund

Service Employees Benefit Fund

1199SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund

Teamsters Local Union 966 Health Fund

IBEW Local Union No. 728 Family Healthcare Plan

Communications Workers of America, Local 1180 Security Benefits Fund

Florida Laborers Health Fund

Electricians Health, Welfare & Pension Plans I.B.E.W. Local Union No. 995

NECA-IBEW Local 480 Health and Welfare Plan

Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 177 Health and Welfare, Pension and Vacation Funds

South Central Laborers’ Health & Welfare Fund

Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 IBT Welfare Fund

IBEW Local Union No. 728 Family Healthcare Plan

Sports Arena Employees’ Local 137 Welfare Fund

Truck Drivers and Helpers Local 355 Health and Welfare Fund

Health and Welfare Fund of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Inc. Police Department City of New York

Amalgamated, Industrial and Toy & Novelty Workers of America, Local 223 Sick Benefit Fund

Atlanta Plumbers & Steamfitters Fringe Benefit Funds

Central Texas Health and Benefit Trust Fund Locals 520, 60 & 72

Electricians Health, Welfare & Pension Plans I.B.E.W. Local Union No. 995

Florida Laborers Health Fund

IBEW Local No. 640 and Arizona Chapter NECA Health & Welfare Trust Fund

NECA-IBEW Local 480 Health and Welfare Plan

Plumbers and Pipefitters Welfare Fund of Local Union No. 719

Southeastern Pipetrades Health & Welfare Fund

UFCW Local 1262 and Employers Health & Welfare Fund

Plumbers Local Union No. 690 of Philadelphia and Vicinity Health Plan

United Food & Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Midwest Health Benefits Fund

Construction Workers Local 147 Welfare Fund

Blasters, Drillers &Miners Union Local No. 29 Welfare Fund

International Union ofBricklayers & Allied Craftworkers

Construction Workers Local 147 Welfare Fund

Local 298 HealthBenefit Fund Plan

Local 803 Health and Welfare Fund

Louisiana Laborers Health and Welfare Fund

Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 823 Health & Welfare Fund

Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 6 Health and Welfare Fund

Southwestern Teamsters Security Fund

Teamsters Local 455 Welfare Plan

Teamsters Local 210 Affiliated Health and Insurance Fund

Teamsters Welfare Fund of Northern New Jersey Local 1723

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1000 and Kroger Dallas Health and Welfare Plan

UNITE HERE Local 74 Welfare and Dental Trust

United Service Employees Union, Local 377, RWDSU, UFCW

IBEW Local 613 and Contributing Employers Family Health Plan (Union

Bricklayers Local 1 of MD, VA and DC

I.B.E.W. Local 1249 Insurance Fund**

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers**

International Brotherhood of Trade Unions Health and Welfare Fund – Local 713

International Union of Operating Engineers Local 295-295C Welfare Trust Fund**

International union of Operating Engineers, Local Union Number 137**

Iron Workers Local Union #28 Health and Welfare Fund**

Local 1102 Amalgamated Welfare Fund

Local 1102 Health & Benefit Fund

Local 1102 Welfare Fund– Lerner Employees

Local 272 Welfare Fund**

Local 338 Affiliated Benefit Funds

Michigan Conference of Teamsters Welfare Fund**

Minnesota and North Dakota Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers**

Operating Engineers Local 835 Health and Welfare Fund

Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 430 Health and Welfare Fund**

Retail, Wholesale & Dept. Store Union Local 1034 Welfare Fund

Sheet Metal Workers Funds of Local Union 38**

Teamsters Local 522 Welfare Fund Roofers Division

Teamsters Local Union 72 Welfare Fund**

UFCW Local 371 Amalgamated Welfare Fund**

United Crafts Benefits Fund**

United Food & Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Local No. 348 Health & Welfare Fund**

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 New Hampshire

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 464a**

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 911**

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459 and Contributing Employers Health and Welfare Fund**

Alaska Pipe Trade U.A. Local 367 Health and Security Trust**

Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 630 Welfare Fund

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1000

United Wire, Metal & Machine Health & Welfare Fund**

Cleveland Bakers Teamsters

Laundry and Dry Cleaning Workers Local No. 52

Social Service Employees Union Local 371

United Food and Commercial Workers Union (Mount Laurel, NJ)

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1459

United Food and Commercial Workers and Participating Employers Interstate Health and Welfare Fund

Laborers’ International Union of North America Local Union No. 616 Health and Welfare Plan

UFCW Allied Trade Health & Welfare Trust

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1995

IBEW No.915

Asbestos Workers Local 53 Welfare Fund

Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 123 Welfare Fund

UFCW Local 227

UFCW Maximus Local 455

***

You can see the updated list for yourselves right here.

Big hat tip to John Sexton in the Hot Air Green Room, who reports the rather curious delays in HHS’s posting of the new updates:

Last year, the HHS website was very efficient posting a list of ObamaCare waivers that had been granted. Ususally by the 3rd of the month the list was updated to included waivers that had been approved in the previous month. But something happened in January. Two weeks into the month no new waivers had been posted.

I was curious what caused the delay so I made some calls. Last Tuesday I spoke by phone with a media relations employees of HHS. She was not allowed to speak on the record, but after checking with folks at OCIIO who handle the ObamaCare waivers, she was able to inform me in a “not for attribution” way that the latest batch of waivers had in fact been processed. There was no specific hold-up that she could identify, they were simply running behind in getting the information on the website.

Well today, the day after the President’s State of the Union, the new waivers are up. You may recall that there were 222 such waivers approved in November. That number has now jumped to 729 through the end of December. The total number of people covered by the waivers has gone from 1.5M to just under 2.2M. The list includes the usual assortment of union locals and businesses.

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that OCIIO was asked to hold this development until after the SOTU. Indeed the latest waiver approved in the list is from December 30th. There is an addendum at the bottom of the page noting that four states–Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Tennessee–have applied for waivers covering another 93,000 people. The addendum is dated 1/21/11, but I can assure you it was not there on 1/21 or even Monday…

More rich fodder for the House and Senate GOP probes of the Obamacare Waiver-mania program the Democrats don’t want to talk about…
***

Previous:

1/24/10 Investigating Obamacare Waiver-mania

12/7/10 Obamacare Waiver-mania! continues: List tops 222

11/19/10 The Obamacare Waiver-mania! movement builds

11/17/10 Dude, where’s my Obamacare waiver?

11/14/10 Waiver-mania! The ever-expanding Obamacare escapee list

10/6/10 Obamacare waivers: Torquemada Sebelius spares McDonald’s, unions

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