Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it filed a lawsuit on December 30, 2010, against the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to obtain records regarding the agency’s decision to grant “waivers” to companies and unions seeking to be exempt from requirements of Public Health Services Act Section 2711, President Obama’s healthcare reform law. According to HHS’s own estimate, at least 222 companies and unions have received waivers from the law, commonly known as Obamacare.
With its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, Judicial Watch seeks the following information:
A. All records concerning the decision to grant waivers of the Annual Limits Requirements of PHS Act Section 2711; andJudicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on October 7, 2010. HHS was required by law to respond by November 8, 2010. However, to date, HHS has failed to produce any records or to provide a justification for withholding responsive records. Nor has the agency indicated when a response is forthcoming.
B. All communications between McDonald’s Corp. and HHS concerning Annual Limits Requirements.
The time frame for this request is from March 2010 to the present.
In September 2010, McDonald’s corporation announced it would have to eliminate a health insurance program for nearly 30,000 low wage employees due to an Obamacare requirement that 80 to 85% of all insurance premium revenue be spent on patient care. Due to the high administrative costs associated with this type of health coverage program (known as a mini-med plan), McDonald’s insurer indicated it could not possibly meet the Obamacare requirement. HHS provided McDonald’s a one-year waiver concerning the Obamacare mandate and has been deluged with waiver requests from hundreds of other companies and unions since.
The Wall Street Journal deemed the McDonald’s waiver request, “one of the clearest indications that new [Obamacare] rules may disrupt workers' health plans as the law ripples through the real world.”
President Obama’s healthcare reform law does not specify which companies or unions should receive waivers for its requirements and under what circumstances. Critics of how HHS has chosen to handle these waiver requests highlight the haphazard nature of the approval process and the fact that companies able to secure these coveted Obamacare exemptions are given an unfair competitive advantage over their rivals.
“The Obama administration is the most secretive in modern times. The Obamacare waiver fiasco is exactly the type of chaos that ensues when the federal government attempts to seize control of a large sector of the private economy. And Kathleen Sebelius’s HHS is willing to violate the Freedom of Information Act to keep Americans in the dark about this Obamacare failure. Secretary Sebelius might want to begin her implementation of Obamacare by obeying federal law regarding public records. The Obama administration’s slapdash handling of these waiver requests has created an enormous potential for political favoritism and influence peddling. The Obama administration must make this waivers completely transparent to the American people so they can be assured, in the least, that the process is not infected by corruption,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.