How Much Power Does Sebelius Have?

Apparently a lot. Remember the Obama administration claim that limits on health insurance benefits were being removed? That won’t apply to about one million workers because of waivers Secretary Sebelius has granted to 30 companies and groups:

The 30 entities include fast-food retail chains McDonald’s and Jack in the Box, the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund and the United Agricultural Benefit Trust. Under the waiver, the companies and groups will not have to raise the minimum annual benefit in low-cost health plans that they offer their workers, particularly part-time or low-wage employees. HHS said it granted the waivers to ensure that those workers would not lose their coverage if the companies decided to stop offering the plans because of the law’s new rules, as McDonald’s warned the Obama administration it would do unless it received the waiver.

But what happens to the additional million or so people with mini-med plans who didn’t get a waiver?

Comments (10)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    The waivers only last for a limited duration. When the wavers finally expire, the employers will have to either pay a fine or provide costly insurance. Workers ultimately bear the cost of their health coverage because it’s part of their compensation. As a result of employers forced to provide coverage workers themselves would not purchase, workers will suffer slow wage growth or find no jobs available. Over time, moderate-income workers will migrate to small employers that are not required to provide coverage, and get their coverage in the exchange at taxpayer expense.

  2. Larry C. says:

    It’s amazing how she can unilaterally decide that the law doesn’t apply to a million people. But it does apply to another million.

  3. Bruce says:

    Here’s what is going on. If you are a special interest with a Washington lobbyist and the ability to embarrass the administration in the newpapers, you get a waiver.

    If you’re just an ordinary citizen or an employee of small business with a mini-med plan you get shafted.

  4. Vicki says:

    Sebelius is in some ways a virtual dictator.

  5. Leon DeWitt says:

    There is a solution for the employers of those one million workers. By switching them to LyfeBank accounts, family members or part time workers may pool employer funds from each job into employee-owned accounts to buy health insurance and pay for medical expenses, all with pretax dollars. Visit to see how this works.

  6. C. Lewis says:

    Although these waivers come with expiration dates, I fully expect Sebelious to extend them when they come due. This situation will be just like the doc fix. Politicians will face pressure to continue the waivers and will do so with little hesitation, not comprehending the hypocrisy of the situation. The uncertainty in the market about who gets a waiver and who doesn’t will only further erode the system. In normal circumstances, the eroding of the current system would be a good thing. However, in this case, it will only strengthen their arguments for an all-out take over of the healthcare industry. And voters, who now have little choice, will probably be in favor of Medicare-for-all just to eliminate the uncertainty. It really has been fascinating to watch Obamacare unravel on them so quickly.

  7. John Eley says:

    We owe this mess of Obama Care to the ambitions of the liberal Democrats who wanted to go down in history as the ones who accomplished reform of the health care system. On the PBS News Hour the other night one of them claimed that they had accomplished something that others attempted for 70 years. One wonders if the real world to which this reform was supposed to apply has remained in tact so that it makes sense to attempt something that goes back that many years. Of course there is the equally absurd claim of the President that he will the last one to deal with this after a long list of others has failed. I think that he said something like “I am not the first to attempt this but I will be the last.” How nice to know that we have another end of history.

  8. Bart Ingles says:

    So much for rule of law.

  9. Erik Ramirez says:

    These corporations received a waiver because they are large enough, and wealthy enough to affect the outcome of the legislation. They are using their strength in numbers (just like unions, only unions are mostly middle class-poor folks) to veto legislation they do not like because it will cost them in their profits.

    This is another classic example of class warfare. Those wealthy enough to have a voice will express it only to their concerns while everyone else is left to suffer to consequences.

  10. Devon Herrick says:

    No, these corporations received a waiver because a few people at HHS actually understand that employers don’t really pay for health coverage. Rather, workers pay for their own coverage through wage reductions or direct contributions. If these plans went away, the employers would drop health coverage because their workers (in most case) are unwilling (or unable) to forgo take home pay sufficient to pay for the higher premiums.