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OPINION

The Waiver Charade

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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During the debate over his health care law, President Obama repeatedly promised that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” but for millions of Americans that promise has already been broken.

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In a shocking admission, Obama’s administration has granted more than 1,000 waivers to the health law to prevent 2.6 million workers from losing their coverage. Millions more weren’t lucky enough to get a waiver, and have already been forced to switch plans.

Most waivers have been distributed to Fortune 500 corporations like Pepsi and McDonald’s, unions, Las Vegas casinos and in one case an entire state.

If corporations and unions can get a waiver from the health law, every American should get one. That is why I have introduced a bill that would allow anyone – an individual, a family, a small business – to receive a waiver. You should not need to be politically connected to keep your health insurance.

My bill uses the same standard created by the Obama Administration. If the law increases your insurance premiums, you can apply for a waiver. If you’re forced to drop the coverage you like, you can apply for a waiver. The bill also requires the Obama Administration to educate the public about the option and regularly report how many families and employers have received waivers.

The Obama Administration has been pretty clear why these waivers are necessary. In an application posted on the Department of Health and Human Services website, applicants are told they can receive a waiver if the lifetime limit mandate would result in a “significant increase in premiums” or a “significant decrease in access to benefits.”

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“We don’t want to take away people’s health insurance before they have some realistic other choices,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told one newspaper.

This confession by the administration is telling. There are countless mandates in the law which would increase premiums and decrease the ability to obtain coverage. For example, by 2014 every American will be required to purchase expensive, government-designed health insurance. Most employers will be forced by Washington to offer comprehensive health benefits or face a fine. The law’s one-size-fits-all benefit mandates will likely eliminate Health Savings Accounts for 11 million families. According to the administration’s own data, the law’s restrictive rules will force 80 percent of small businesses to drop their current plans and purchase more expensive coverage.

The President promised his health law would reduce premiums by $2,500 per family, but insurance has only become more expensive under the law. In New Hampshire, some plans are seeing premiums go up more than 40 percent. In Massachusetts, several plans have announced rate increases of 20 percent or more. In my home state of Michigan, 15 percent rate increases are becoming routine.

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Increasing costs are the number one reason Americans cannot access insurance. Yet ObamaCare does nothing to actually reign in health care costs. Instead, it forces Americans to purchase a government-designed insurance product which will be unaffordable for countless employers and workers.

If given the chance, most Americans would prefer to keep the coverage they have. Expanding the administration’s own waiver process will allow families to keep their plans and small businesses to continue offering benefits.

It’s only fair.

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