Up to 222 now, and still getting bigger.
The Obama Administration has quietly granted even more waivers to one provision of the new federal health reform law, doubling the number in just the last three weeks to a new total of 222.
One of the more recognizable business names included on the newly-expanded list of waivers issued by the feds is that of Waffle House, which received a waiver on November 23 for health coverage that covers 3,947 enrollees.
Another familiar name was that of Universal Orlando, which runs a variety of very popular resorts in the Orlando, Florida area. Universal was given a waiver for plans that cover 668 workers.
These waivers deal with limited health benefit plans, sometimes referred to as "mini-med" policies, which companies as large as McDonald's use for some its employees.
The plan have limits on how much can be paid out in coverage, limits which would be phased out under the new health reform law.
The feds though have granted waivers from that law, amid concern that certain groups would drop their health insurance programs entirely. Those waivers are good for one year, and can be considered for renewal.
A spokeswoman for Waffle House refused to explain the need for the waiver, saying "because Waffle House is a private company, we are going to decline to comment."
As for Universal Orlando, a spokesman defended the waiver in an email on Monday evening.
"The new legislation would have left our part-time workers without their medical coverage," said Tom Schroder of Universal Orlando Public Relations.
"We sought the waiver so that we could continue to provide them with the coverage they need and deserve," Schroder added.
It's kind of funny, don't you think? If it was really that good of a plan, the President, Senators, Representatives, and their families and staff would want to participate. However, there are provisions built in to exempt them.
As best I can tell, it started with McDonald's and their mini-med plans. Now there are also 111 corporations and organizations (and counting) that have been granted waivers from the Department of Health and Human Services. Why? Because it's bad for business. They can't afford it. Their workers would actually lose coverage or have their premiums raised if the companies were forced to comply. From examiner.com:
The Obama administration has given waivers for the new Healthcare program to 111 corporations and entities so far, but few know where the application is to apply for it. On the Health and Human Services (HHS) website, it takes clicking through six pages of information and misdirection to find the waiver application, and also to see a list of approved businesses who have opted out.
Approved Applications for Waiver of the Annual Limits Requirements of the PHS Act Section 2711 as of November 1, 2010. (Click on the link to go to the page with waiver applications and approved lists)
Unfortunately, to receive a waiver it appears you must have political capital with the administration to be accepted. For most small businesses, you will be incurring the new taxes, fees, and programs that will add thousands to your bottom line, and in more than a few cases, might cause a small business to close their doors.
In March, AT&T reported from an internal study that the new Healthcare program will cost their company over $1 Billion in new and additional costs. We do not know at this time if they have applied for a waiver from HHS, but they are not on the approved list as of November 1st.
Looking at the list, you will notice that unions are one of the largest entities given a waiver, and speaks to the political gifts given by the Administration to them. The Obama Presidency has proven their partnership with unions since 2008 to the detriment of small business.
FoxNews had the following discussion on the topic: