Obama Administration grants more than 1,000 reform waivers

Although the Obama Administration has defended the legality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a variety of federal courts, it has quietly granted more than 1,000 waivers to the reform law, reports The Hill.

As of last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has granted 1,040 waivers to the reform law, including 126 reported last Friday. Many of the waivers are for firms that offer their employees so-called "mini-med" plans. Such plans typically provide minimal coverage that is usually limited to a few thousand dollars a year. The reform legislation requires a minimum of $750,000 of coverage in 2011.

"We don't want to take away people's health insurance before they have some realistic other choices," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The waivers are intended as a temporary stopgap until insurance exchanges on the state level become operational in 2014. Altogether, they cover about 2.6 million people, or about 2 percent of private insured individuals, according to HHS data.

Most of the waivers have been granted, but several dozen have been turned down because they "did not demonstrate that compliance with the minimum annual limits requirements would significantly increase premiums or decrease access to benefits," according to an HHS official.

For more:
- read The Hill article
- read the Business Week article

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