JANUARY 24, 2011
Local chapters of a powerful national union that spent nearly $30 million to help President Obama get elected are among the fortunate few to get waivers from inconvenient provisions of the contentious healthcare law.The information, revealed today by a conservative news site, comes a week after this blog reported that a disproportionately high number of Obamacare waivers are being granted to the president’s allies in a secretive process. Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have issued more than 200 exemptions—mostly to the president’s financial supporters—from some of the more burdensome provisions of the healthcare reform law.In early October Judicial Watch filed a public records request to obtain information on the shady deals, but the Obama Health Department flipped the finger and Judicial Watch was forced to sue. The agency blew off its legally required deadline to produce the records without providing any sort of justification for withholding them, a common occurrence when the government wants to keep damaging information from the public.Though the process has been kept from the public, the list of exemptions is quite revealing. For instance, over a third of the more than 1.5 million employees covered by the waivers are union members even though unionized workers make up only 7% of the private workforce. Forty three union organizations have been granted Obamacare waivers so far and the number is expected to grow.They include three local chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which spent $28 million to support Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to a union document linked in the news story. Of interesting note is that one of the SEIU chapters—Local 25—is in Obama’s hometown of Chicago and also supported his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. In 2008, the national union endorsed Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.Nationally, the politically-connected SEIU has 2.2 million members that include security guards, healthcare workers and janitors. The waivers allow various union health insurance plans to limit the amount they’ll spend on a policy holder’s annual medical coverage, even though Obamacare eliminates such annual limits.
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