Mitt Romney's ObamaCare Waiver Plan is a Farce

In an effort to try to divert attention from the controversial health care legislation he enacted while Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney released the following statement via National Review last week.

If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. The executive order would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health-care solutions that work best for them. (…)

The key phrase here is “maximum possible authority.” Let’s take a look at what the signed legislation says about waivers and the authority granted to the states. As John Vinci of Health Care News points out, there are six different types of ObamaCare waivers.

*MLR waiver for mini-med health insurance plans
*Annual limit waiver
*MLR waiver for States
*State innovation waiver
*ACO anti-trust waivers
*Individual mandate waivers

The type of waiver Mitt is talking about, is the “state innovation waiver.” Good luck complying with the requirements, as South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley recently discovered.

South Carolina Governor-elect Nikki Haley commented on her discussion with President Obama at a recent meeting he had with newly elected governors:

“I respectfully asked him to consider repealing the bill,” she said, to which he clearly stated he would not. “I pushed him further and said if that’s the case, because of states’ rights, would you at least consider South Carolina opting out of the program?”

Obama told her he would consider letting South Carolina opt out, she said, if the state could find its own solution that included a state exchange, preventing companies from bumping people for preexisting conditions and allowing insurance pooling.

“I think it’s something we go back to South Carolina and start crunching,” she said. “This is not about expecting what’s given. This is about saying we’re going to fight this every step of the way and use every option possible.”

Was Obama offering to exempt South Carolina by virtue of his own judgment and magnanimity? Hardly. Obama was offering no more than what Obamacare already offers. Namely, a “Waiver for State innovation” from section 1332 of Obamacare. But this waiver is not as helpful as Governor-elect Haley might hope. What President Obama did not tell her is that South Carolina would also be required to:

•“provide coverage at least as comprehensive” as Obamacare;
•“provide coverage and cost sharing protections against excessive out-of-pocket spending that are at least as affordable” as Obamacare; and
•“provide coverage to at least a comparable number of its residents as” Obamacare.

Benjamin Domenech, in his December 1, 2010 op-ed says, “If this seems like a silly Catch-22 for states, it is. The only policies that could meet this waiver requirement are single-payer constructs — which many other nations are moving away from, having tried them and seen them fail.”

In addition, states can’t even apply for the state innovation waiver until January 1, 2017.

There is no way individual states could comply with the onerous requirements of section 1332. In order for Romney’s strategy to be effective, it would either have to be overturned by the courts, or repealed by both houses of congress. I would like to know more about what his executive order would say. Perhaps he will be kind enough to show us a rough draft?

Click HERE for the complete text of ObamaCare. Section 1332 begins toward the bottom of page 85.

Cross posted at Right Speak