House Oversight Panel to Probe Health Reform Annual Limit Waivers

March 9, 2011 ( – A U.S. House subcommittee has scheduled a March 15 hearing into why the Obama Administration is granting waivers from parts of the health reform law.

According to a schedule posted on its Web site, the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a session the panel has entitled “”Obamacare: Why The Need For Waivers?”

A news account on The Hill Web site said the hearings are expected to focus on government waivers granted to more than 1,000 organizations from the health law’s annual limit coverage requirements. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has granted 1,040 one-year exemptions for groups that would not be able to meet the new annual coverage floor of $750,000 in 2011, The Hill reported. In January, HHS told The Hill that the department denied about 50 waiver requests.

According to the Hill report, Republicans on the panel claim the exemptions are proof of the reform’s flaws and are gifts to Democratic allies, while administration officials point out that the law gives the HHS secretary the ability to offer waivers and a large chunk of business groups have received waivers.

Meanwhile, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions of the U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee has scheduled a Thursday morning hearing about whether additional cost from the health reform law is affecting employer health coverage (see House Panel Holds Health Reform Costs Hearing).