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Two States Denied Obamacare Waivers

By Doug Powers  •  November 29, 2011 02:24 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

Add two states to the Obamacare waiver denial list that already includes Delaware and N. Dakota. Hey, not everybody can with the Lucky Lottery.

From The Hill:

The decision could rekindle the controversy over the waiver process, as the two states that were turned down, Indiana and Louisiana, have Republican governors. GOP leaders at the state level have been extremely critical of the healthcare law and the requirements that it imposes on states.

The Department of Health and Human Services said Indiana and Louisiana do not need an adjustment from the health law’s medical loss ratio. That provision requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care or offer rebates to their customers starting next year.

Don’t assume too quickly that “GOP guvs = no state waiver,” because Nevada, Wisconsin, Maine and Iowa have gotten waivers, and they have GOP Governors. It’s possible the administration’s goal with these state waivers isn’t to punish or not punish political opponents as much as attempting to avoid making the economy even worse too soon — after all, there’s an election just around the corner. As a result, they’ll approve some waivers and deny just enough to avoid making it a de facto blanket admission that Obamacare is a horrible idea, especially with the Supreme Court readying to hear the case.

The real red flag isn’t who was denied or approved, but that states are clamoring for waivers at all from something that purportedly will improve the quality of everyone’s life. If it’s this painful on the front end, what’s it going to be like at the back end? Probably like most back ends.

The wording in some of the waiver discussions is even disturbing:

Consumer Watchdog wrote in public comments urging HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to reject the application. “As the MLR regulations make clear, there must be a credible threat to the stability of the individual marketplace in order to grant a waiver. Indiana has demonstrated no such threat.”

When it sounds like there’s a fine line between implementing an “affordable” health insurance law and deciphering chatter preceding an economic terrorist attack, something’s not going to end well.

In a related story, a remote corner of the Pacific just got to be a more attractive place to do business:

Guam had also applied for a waiver, but HHS determined the U.S. territory’s insurers were so small they don’t have to comply with the new rules.

Or so small there’s not enough power and money there to waste time trying to control… yet.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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