Another month goes by and it’s time for yet another update on the Obamacare waiver situation. (You thought we forgot, what with all the other stories eating up the news cycle, didn’t you?) The rate may have slowed down a bit, but it hasn’t stopped. A new batch of waivers has been approved and the total is quickly approaching one of those big, shiny, round numbers.
The Health and Human Services Department granted 39 new waivers last month from part of the healthcare law, bringing the total to just shy of 1,500.
In September, HHS will stop the process of granting a new batch of one-year waivers at the end of each month. Companies have until Sept. 22 to file their initial application for a one-year reprieve and seek an extension to carry them through the next three years.
Department officials said they decided on the September cutoff because, by then, every company that thinks it needs a waiver would have had time to apply. The comparatively low number of approvals in June may back up that explanation. The 39 new waivers granted last month bring the total to 1,471.
The real story here may not be the raw number, but the reason being given for the September cutoff. The official line, as noted, is… “well, everyone should have had enough time to apply for a waiver by now if they need one.”
Far more likely, however, is the fact that Barack Obama keeps getting a big ole’ media punch on the nose every month when this story keeps coming up over and over again. The fact that the vast majority of waivers keep going to labor unions and other hot blooded supporters of the man who cooked up this plan in the first place doesn’t help much either. Cutting off the flow probably has more to do with stopping the political bleeding than any logistical argument.
Meanwhile, back in Washington, more waiver related news may be on the way. While many conservatives are outraged by the issuance of these free passes, one Republican is tackling the problem from the opposite angle. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is actually looking to increase the number of waivers… possibly by as many as 300 million.
Wyoming Republican John Barrasso said today that he plans to introduce a bill next week that “will deliver choice to Americans who want to get the care they need, from the doctor they want, at a price they can afford” by allowing all Americans to apply for a waiver from the president’s health care law.
“If the law worked well, companies and unions would not demand a way out of its expensive mandates. Each waiver demonstrates that the President’s health care law is a complete failure. The law continues to crush jobs, increase premiums and encourage government controlled health care,” Barrasso said in a written statement. “It’s not fair that a particular group of Americans, including union employees, don’t have to abide by the law. Millions of other Americans across the country deserve the same freedom,” he said.
Obviously this effort is aimed at making a point and drawing the inherent failure of this waiver policy out into the harsh light of day, given that the president would never sign it. But it does allow for an interesting though experiment. How long would it take the Department of Health and Human Services to process that many million applications? And how could any court impose a penalty on someone for not complying with the mandate if they could show that they had an application for a waiver pending? We might finally get it all straightened out in time for the American Tricentennial celebration.