Oba­macare’s lib­eral elite refugees

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

Hear that? It’s the es­ca­lat­ing cry of Amer­i­can em­ploy­ers and work­ers try­ing to hold on to their health care ben­e­fits in the age of sti­fling Obama health in­surance man­dates: Gang­way! Gang­way! Save me! Waive me!

Oba­macare refugees first be­gan beat­ing down the exit doors in Oc­to­ber 2010. As I’ve doc­u­mented since last fall, waiver-ma­nia started with McDon­ald’s and Jack in the Box; spread to Dish Net­works, hair sa­lon chain Regis Corp and re­sort gi­ant Uni­ver­sal Or­lando; took hold among ev­ery ma­jor Big La­bor or­ga­ni­za­tion from the AFL-CIO to the CWA to the SEIU; roped in the na­tion­al­ized health care pro­mot­ers at the Robert Wood John­son Foun­da­tion (whose board of trustees in­cludes health care czar Nancy Ann DeParle); and is now grip­ping en­tire states (Maine, New Hamp­shire and Ne­vada all re­cently got in on the act).

The lat­est to catch the waive? West Coast lib­er­als.

Yes, smack dab in the mid­dle of House Demo­cratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s con­gres­sional district, a clus­ter of San Fran­cisco small busi­nesses is among the lat­est re­cip­i­ents of get-out- of-Oba­macare passes. As Jamie Dupree of Cox Me­dia Group and Matthew Boyle of The Daily Caller pointed out last week, there are at least two dozen Bay Area com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing bars, restau­rants, ho­tels, tourist shops, real es­tate and auto firms, that have se­cured tem­po­rary, one-year re­prieves from the fed­eral law. It’s the San Fran­cisco Treat that vot­ers didn’t fore­see un­til af­ter the bill was rammed down their throats.

An­other note­wor­thy waiver win­ner: Seat­tle-based REI. The trendy Pa­cific North­west out­door equip­ment re­tailer’s pro­gres­sive CEO and Demo­cratic cam­paign donor, Sally Jewell, ap­peared with Pres­i­dent Obama in 2009 to tout White House health care re­form ini­tia­tives. Two years later, REI snagged a waiver to pro­tect the health ben­e­fits of a whop­ping 1,180 work­ers from the very ten­ta­cles of the big gov­ern­ment bu­reau­crats Jewell em­braced at Obama’s roundtable.

To date, the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices has granted fed­eral health care law ex­emp­tions to more than three mil­lion Amer­i­can work­ers cov­ered by more than 1,300 unions, com­pa­nies and in­sur­ers who had vol­un­tar­ily of­fered low-cost health plans with an­nual ben­e­fits lim­its. Med­dling Oba­macare ar­chi­tects out­lawed those pri­vate plans, nick­named “mini med” plans, in the name of “pa­tients’ rights.” But with­out spe­cial waivers, the es­capees would have been forced to hike pre­mi­ums or drop in­surance cov­er­age al­to­gether for mostly low-wage, sea­sonal and part-time work­ers.

Among the most re­cent union af­fil­i­ates to se­cure par­dons from the one-size-fits-all health pol­icy that their bosses spent hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars of worker dues lob­by­ing for:

Team­sters Lo­cal 485 Health and Wel­fare Fund in Brook­lyn, N.Y.

Detroit and Vicin­ity Trowel Trades Health and Wel­fare Fund.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Work­ers of Amer­ica (CWA) Lo­cal 1182 Se­cu­rity Ben­e­fits Fund.

CWA Lo­cal 1183 Health and Wel­fare Fund.

Bak­ers Union and Food Em­ploy­ees La­bor Re­la­tions As­so­ci­a­tion Health and Wel­fare Fund.

Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union Health­care Illi­nois Home Care and Child Care Fund.

United Food and Com­mer­cial Work­ers San Diego Em­ploy­ers Health and Wel­fare Trust.

Wel­fare Fund of the In­ter­na­tional Union of Op­er­at­ing En­gi­neers Lo­cal 15, 15A, 15C, 15D AFL-CIO.

United Steel­work­ers Lo­cal 10318 Health and Wel­fare Trust Fund.

United As­so­ci­a­tion of Jour­ney­men and Ap­pren­tices Lo­cal 198 AFL-CIO Health and Wel­fare Trust.

Team­sters Lo­cal 617 Wel­fare Fund in Ridge­field, N.J.

Team­sters Lo­cal 734 Wel­fare Fund in Chicago.

Plum­bers and Steam­fit­ters Lo­cal 60 Health and Wel­fare Fund.

New York State Nurses Wel­fare Plan for New York City Em­ployed Reg­is­tered Pro­fes­sional Nurses.

The ultimate goal, it bears re­peat­ing, is to force a mas­sive, rev­o­lu­tion­ary and ir­re­versible shift from pri­vate to pub­lic in­surance de­signed by gov­ern- ment-knows-best bu­reau­crats.

Pelosi and the Golden Ticket Ad­min­is­tra­tors in Wash­ing­ton deny pref­er­en­tial treat­ment for waiver ben­e­fi­cia­ries. But the stench of waivers-for-fa­vors won’t be dis­pelled un­til and un­less the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leases a full list not only of those who won ex­emp­tions, but also of those who ap­plied and were de­nied. With San Fran­cisco busi­nesses caught with their hands in the waiver jar, Pelosi’s of­fice could do noth­ing else but pout: “It is pa­thetic,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Ham­mill, “that there are those who would be cheer­ing for Amer­i­cans to lose their min­i­mum health cov­er­age or see their pre­mi­ums in­crease for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.” It is far more pa­thetic to have cheered, as Pelosi did on the one-year an­niver­sary of Oba­macare, the law’s oner­ous ben­e­fits lim­its from which thou­sands of her own con­stituents have now been ex­empted. Once again, the rest of Amer­ica wants to know: Dude, where’s my waiver?

Michelle Malkin is the au­thor of “Cul­ture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Reg­n­ery 2010).

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