Latest beneficiary of ObamaCare waiver: AARP
posted at 9:54 am on May 20, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
No one seems to know what criteria HHS uses to grant or deny waivers to insurers from provisions in ObamaCare. The White House won’t release the names of those insurers and employers refused waivers or discuss denials at all. But maybe, just maybe, we could all agree that organizations that publicly pushed ObamaCare to approval should be ineligible to escape its consequences?
The Daily Caller has learned that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rate review rules, which it finalized on Thursday, exempt “Medigap” policy providers, like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), from oversight when such providers increase payment rates for their supplemental insurance plans.
Insurance providers who aren’t exempt from Obamacare’s rate review rules are required to publicly release and explain some health care payment rate increases.
Let’s not forget that AARP had a distinct interest in seeing ObamaCare pass, because it helped eliminate competition for AARP’s supplemental insurance program:
The AARP is the nation’s biggest seller of Medigap policies, or supplemental healthcare plans that add onto what Medicare won’t cover for seniors. The senior citizens interest group advocated for Obamacare to include an attack on Medigap policies’ biggest competitor, Medicare Advantage.
Though the White House and HHS dismiss allegations of political favoritism when it comes to who’s getting exceptions from the new health care regulations – such as in the recent uproar over the disproportionate number of Obamacare waivers that went to companies in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s district — Obamacare critics say the mere appearance of the administration helping friends is disturbing.
The attack on Medicare Advantage plans was a crucial part of ObamaCare. Democrats insisted that the public-private partnership was driving the cost curve upward and needed to be drastically curtailed, and the bill sliced $500 billion out of Medicare, largely at the expense of Medicare Advantage. Fortunately for the AARP, which was conducting a public-relations campaign to drum up support for ObamaCare, those changes didn’t impact their own Medigap plans.
Thanks to the passage of ObamaCare, Medicare Advantage plans began disappearing, and the choices are much fewer for seniors and the disabled who want supplemental insurance. That puts AARP in perfect position to take advantage (pun intended) of the lack of choice. And now they don’t even have to deal with the few consequences that their favorite bill created for them.
How coincidentally fortunate for them!
We’re way beyond “mere appearance” here. If the AARP and the labor unions that backed ObamaCare need waivers from its consequences, then we all do.