HHS To Stop Granting Healthcare Law Waivers.

The New York Times (6/18, A12, Pear, Subscription Publication) reported that HHS is “shutting down a program that had provided exemptions from the new healthcare law for many employers and labor unions offering bare-bones insurance coverage to workers.”
The AP (6/18, Alonso-Zaldivar) reported that the Obama Administration Friday announced an “early end” to the healthcare waiver program. “Political considerations were ‘absolutely not’ part of the decision, said Steve Larsen, head of a section of the Health and Human Services department that oversees” Obama’s healthcare reform law. Larsen said that no “new applications for waivers will be considered after Sept. 22” but approvals or renewals “received by the deadline will be good through 2013.” Starting in 2014, the primary coverage provisions of the healthcare law “will take effect, and such waivers will no longer be needed.”
The Hill (6/17, Pecquet, Baker) “Healthwatch” blog reported that CMS “has been updating the waiver totals every month — and every month, critics of the healthcare law have seized the fresh opportunity to argue that the healthcare law is unworkable. That cycle of bad press could have repeated itself every month for the next three years without the changes announced Friday.”
The Wall Street Journal (6/18, Adamy, Subscription Publication) reported that 1,433 waivers had been granted as of the end of May. The Daily Caller (6/18, Boyle) says it appears “to be a last-minute move to avoid scrutiny.” Politico (6/17, Dobias) also covered the story.

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