Thursday, March 3, 2011

Updated Exemptions from the Health Care Law

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, as of January 26 2011, a total of 733 waivers have been granted for 2011.  Key facts about annual limits waivers:
·         There was an increase in the number of applications received at the end of 2010 because December 1 was the final day to apply for a waiver for a plan or policy year that begins on January 1 – as many plans do. Over 500 waivers were granted in December.  While the number of approved waivers increased by more than 200 percent, the total number of enrollees in plans receiving waivers has increased by only 48 percent since the previous posting. 
·         Of all the waivers granted to date:
o    Employment-Based Coverage: The vast majority – 712 plans representing 97 percent of all waivers – were granted to health plans that are employment-related.
§  Self-Insured Employer Plans Applicants: Employer-based health plans received most of the waivers – 359.     
§  Collectively-Bargained Employer-Based Plan Applicants: Most of the other health plans receiving waivers are multi-employer health funds created by a collective bargaining agreement between a union and two or more employers, pursuant to the Taft-Hartley Act.  These “union plans” are employment based group health plans and operate for the sole benefit of workers.  They tend to be larger than other typical group health plans because they cover multiple employers. There are also single-employer union plans that have received a waiver.  In total, 182 collectively-bargained plans have received waivers.
§  Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs):  HRAs are employer-funded group health plans where employees are reimbursed tax-free for qualified medical expenses up to a maximum dollar amount for a coverage period.  In total, HHS has approved 171 applications for waivers for HRAs.
o    Health Insurers: Sixteen waivers were granted to health insurers, which can apply for a waiver for multiple mini-med products sold to employers or individuals. 
o    State Governments: Four waivers have gone to State governments.  States may apply for a waiver of the restricted annual limits on behalf of issuers of state-mandated policies if state law required the policies to be offered by the issuers prior to September 23, 2010. 
·         The number of enrollees in plans with annual limits waivers is 2.1 million, representing only about 1 percent of all Americans who have private health insurance today.
CNS News reported that while the more than 160 unions on the waiver list gave disproportionately to Democrats, the corporations on the list gave to both parties, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In some cases, these corporations gave more to Republicans.
Assurant Inc.’s PAC spent $162,740 on political contributions in 2010 -- 58 percent of that money went to Democratic candidates. In 2008, the PAC spent $210,000 for campaign contributions, with 51 percent going to Democrats. The Assurant Health CEO Donald Hamm made most of his contributions to America’s Health Insurance Plans PAC. The only candidate Hamm contributed to in the last two election cycles was Wisconsin House GOP candidate John Gard,In 2010, the Cigna PAC spent $206,650 on campaign contributions, with 61 percent going to Republican candidates. In 2008, the Cigna PAC spent $178,500 on political contributions, with 62 percent going to Republican candidates. Cigna CEO Cordani contributed to four candidates in 2010, three of whom were Republicans.
The Aetna PAC spent $458,000 on campaign contributions in 2010, with 68 percent of those contributions going to Republican candidates. In 2008, Aetna spent $241,750 on campaign contributions, with 64 percent going to Republicans.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini contributed money to the 2010 campaign of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), 2010 Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Lee Irwin Fisher, and Rob Simmons, a Republican who sought the 2010 Republican Senate nomination in Connecticut.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield PAC spent $429,425 in campaign contributions in 2010, and 57 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates. In 2008, the PAC spent $345,250 on political contributions, with 53 percent going to Republican candidates.

The HHS states that some 94% of the waivers have been granted. Who was denied and why? That is the question that many in congress has been asking. So far, we have no answers.

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