The Blog

Government by Waiver, cont.

11:01 AM, May 18, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

As the New York Times reports, organizations that provide home health care or nursing home care are seeking waivers from Obamacare, which would otherwise compromise their ability to provide care. The Times writes that “many nursing homes and home care agencies, alarmed at the cost of providing health insurance to hundreds of thousands of health care workers, have started a lobbying effort seeking some kind of exemption or special treatment” from Obamacare’s requirement that employers must provide government-approved health insurance or else pay fines. 

Obama Pelosi

The Times elaborates:  “Starting in 2014, the law will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer affordable coverage or risk paying a penalty.  For a midsize nursing home, that penalty could easily exceed $200,000 a year.  Nursing home executives are urging Congress and the Obama administration to spare them from the penalties.”  

With each new waiver granted by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Obama administration provides further evidence that its 2,700-page de facto legal code doesn’t work. Instead of the fixed rule of law, Obamacare — for all of its pages of statutory text — promotes the arbitrary rule of man.  It invites, and almost ensures, political cronyism (as Mark Hemingway has reported) and a disturbingly politicized society. For example, the Daily Caller reports that almost 20 percent of the most recent batch of Obamacare waivers are for companies in San Francisco: Nancy Pelosi’s district. 

But there’s more to this story. Part of the reason why nursing homes and home care agencies cannot afford to provide health insurance for their employees is because of the notoriously low rates that Medicare and Medicaid pay to health care providers. Obamacare would further lower Medicare’s payments rates, to below Medicaid’s rates, through the dictates of a largely unchecked Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Not only that, but this IBAP-centered approach is also one of the staples of President Obama’s budgetary “framework” and its phantom $4 trillion in deficit savings.

The Times writes:

Mark Parkinson, president of the American Health Care Association, the largest trade group for nursing homes, says the problem is that reimbursement rates for Medicaid and Medicare, set by government agencies, do not pay them enough to offer their employees medical coverage.  “We do not have much ability to increase prices because we are so dependent on Medicaid and Medicare” for revenue, he said.”

Perhaps a better solution for getting Medicare’s costs under control would be to facilitate competition and choice, by having the government provide premium support to future seniors (those not yet 55) to help them purchase private health insurance of their choice. And perhaps a better solution than waivers would be repeal.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers