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The Daily Fray

Obama Administration Ends Health Care Waivers

June 17, 2011

The Obama administration is getting rid of health care waivers in September, after defending them from conservative critics who said the administration was showing favoritism in how they were handed out. The Daily Caller reported last month that of the 204 waivers approved in April, 38 went to businesses in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's district. But the Government Accountability Office reported that the waivers were given out using objective guildelines.

The Health and Human Services Department's Steve Larsen, who oversees implementation of the health care law, said politics was "absolutely not" part of the reason to end the waivers, according to the Associated Press' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. Waiver applications won't be accepted after September 22, and those accepted will be valid through the end of 2013.

The waivers address a provision of the law that phases out annual dollar limits on coverage by health insurance plans. Starting this year, plans could not impose a limit below $750,000. But some plans, offered mainly to low-income workers, currently provide $50,000 a year in coverage, and in certain cases much less.

Those plans would have been forced to close down or jack up premiums significantly, leaving more people uninsured.

The waivers were established to avoid disrupting existing coverage.
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