Opinion Brief

The 'ObamaCare' waivers in Nancy Pelosi's district: 'Corrupt'?

The Daily Caller reports that a startling one in five of the new waivers to Obama's health care reform law went to businesses in Pelosi's district

Almost 20 percent of the waivers handed out in April that exempt companies from parts of last year's health care overhaul went to businesses in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D) San Francisco district, says Matthew Boyle at The Daily Caller. Of the 204 one-year waivers, 38 went to "fancy eateries, hip nightclubs, and decadent hotels" in Pelosi's district, allowing those businesses to keep their lower-cost employee health plans for now. In a statement to The Daily Caller, Sarah Palin called those numbers "unflippingbelievable," adding, "Seriously, this is corrupt." Is it really?

How is this not cronyism? "The odds of one representative getting 20 percent of a batch of waivers from the Obama administration as a coincidence seems rather high," says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. I'd like to know just how these waivers are approved by the federal Health and Human Services agency. Given the "high percentage of unions and party leader constituents" among the recipients, this sure looks like "a mechanism for political payoffs.""1 in 5 of latest ObamaCare waivers went to Nancy Pelosi's district?"

This has nothing to do with Pelosi: Here's what those 38 companies have in common, says Suzy Khimm at Mother Jones: Their health benefits are managed by a private company, Flex Plan Services, which directly petitioned HHS for these exemptions — as well as exemptions for 54 other businesses in five states, well outside of Pelosi's district. HHS approved all of them, just as it has with more than 90 percent of temporary waiver requests. Vigilance is good, but this is a "partisan bludgeon.""Debunking the Right's health waiver conspiracy"

The optics are still terrible: Flex Plan confirms that Pelosi played no role in the waivers, say Mike Lillis and Julian Pecquet at The Hill. "Still, the fact that businesses in Pelosi's district are seeking exemptions from Democrats' signature domestic achievement remains an undeniable liability for the party." So while the "corrupt" label may not be accurate, this isn't the last time you'll hear from conservatives hammering away at this "embarrassing" story."Waiver controversy heats up again"

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