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Obamacare waivers on ice — for now

By Michelle Malkin  •  June 17, 2011 11:33 PM

Well, well, well. How’s this for a weekend news dump? The White House is waving goodbye to Obamacare waivers.

The announcement comes as questions about the legality of the HHS program are swelling and challenges to the process persist.

The Overlords of Transparency always have impeccable timing. Also: Indefatigable denial.

Deny, deny, deny:

Removing a potential political distraction ahead of next year’s elections, the Obama administration Friday announced an early end to a health care waiver program that has come under fire from congressional Republicans.

Political considerations were “absolutely not” part of the decision, said Steve Larsen, head of a section of the Health and Human Services department that oversees President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Larsen said no new applications for waivers will be considered after Sept. 22. Approvals or renewals received by the deadline will be good through 2013. Starting in 2014, the main coverage provisions of the health care law will take effect, and such waivers will no longer be needed.

Famous last words.

Now, mark my words. This is an Obamacare architectural fantasy that will NOT materialize as projected:

Instead of approving a new batch of year-long waivers every month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that plans have until Sept. 22 to apply for a waiver that will carry through 2013. In 2014, taxpayer-subsidized insurance will be available to most of the people now covered by the affected plans.

After patting themselves on the back for monthly disclosures of a waiver list that keeps on growing and growing and growing, the White House media strategists realized how damaging the backlash has become.

Disclosure = headache. No more disclosure = no more public scrutiny.

Expect a resurrection of the waivers in some other name or form. As I noted last month, the next sector clamoring for escape hatches from costly Obamacare mandates include nursing homes And as the White House itself signaled in April, HHS bureaucrats have been plotting the process for extending waivers into 2012 and 2013.

I guarantee you: Unions, Democrat lobbying groups, and liberal execs will find a way to get their exemptions — and the White House will find a way to distribute their crony waivers by another name.

Conservative pressure drove Obamacare favor-dispensers underground. Let’s make sure conservative pressure drives them out of power and deprives them of their selective enforcement authority once and for all.



5/18/11 Waive Me
5/16/11 Waiver-mania: Now, nursing homes lobby for Obamacare pardon; Update: San Francisco’s escape hatch
4/4/11 Shhh: HHS grants more Obamacare waivers, considers new 2012-2013 scheme
3/25/11 The Weiner Waiver Wormhole
2/7/11 Look who makes RomneyCare/MassCare’s waiver decisions (Hint: Rhymes with Ess-Eee-Eye-You)
1/28/11 Waivers for Favors: Big Labor’s Obamacare escape hatch
1/26/11 The real snow job in D.C.: Obamacare waivers skyrocket to 729 + 4 states; 4 new SEIU waiver winners
1/24/11 Investigating Obamacare Waiver-mania
12/10/10 Obamacare Waiver-mania! continues: List tops 222
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
9/30/10 Will there be a McDonald’s Inquistion now? Torquemada Sebelius tightens the screws

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