Reality Check: The Fight Over Healthcare Waivers

By Ben Swann email | bio

(FOX19) - The debate over the new healthcare law went to a new level this week when opponents of the law began to say that politics are shaping how the Department of Health and Human Services are giving out waivers.

Those waivers are actually "Mini-Med Waivers".  The White House explains that waivers are granted if conforming to the rules of the new healthcare law "would effect premiums or cause people to lose coverage." 

The Mini-Med waivers are only temporary and bridge from current insurance coverage until the health insurance exchange becomes available in 2014.

So far, 1,372 waivers have been approved by the Obama administration.  Among those who have received them, McDonalds, hotels, construction companies, unions, grocery stores, and many many more.  As of right now, 3.1 million workers have received a Mini-Med waiver with approximately half of them being union workers.

One of the big fire-storms has been that the conservative site, The Daily Caller reported this week that 20 percent of all the waivers approved in the month of April went to former house speaker Nancy Pelosi's district.

That is not quite accurate.

It is true that Pelosi's district secured 20 percent of the latest batch of waivers.  That is going to raise flags.  That is a large percentage of waivers to go to one congressional district.  The actual number is around 38.

But, lets look at the facts.

The waivers in the Congresswoman's district were submitted to directly to HHS from Flex Plan Services. 

On March 23, Flex Plan Services say they submitted applications for  waivers for their client's health plan, including 69 businesses in California, 20 in Washington state, 2 in Georgia, and 1 in Alaska.

On April 4, HHS approved the waiver request for all of Flex Plan Services' clients.  Not just the ones in Pelosi's district.

Here's what you need to know.

If you look at the debate over these waivers, the biggest problem seems to be that the HHS is not giving any specific criteria for how they are giving out waivers for healthcare.

The argument from pundants appears to be that these waivers are going to companies that really need them.  But how do we know?  Until 2014 should everyone get a waiver?    

Until there is a clear, written protocol for who qualifies for the waiver and who doesn't, and why, this issue will only become more contentious. 

And that is Reality Check.