The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that it will cease issuing waivers from the health care reform law’s requirements in September. From the NYT:
No more applications will be accepted after Sept. 22, federal health officials said.
Steven B. Larsen, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said employers and labor unions had until that date to seek exemptions or request the extension of waivers already granted. . . .
Waivers granted or renewed in the next three months will run through 2013. To date, the administration has granted waivers to 1,433 health plans covering 3.2 million people.
On Friday, the administration disclosed that it had denied 100 applications and then approved nearly one-third of them after reconsidering the evidence.
To obtain waivers, employers and health plans must show that compliance with the federal requirements would cause a significant increase in premiums or a significant decrease in access to benefits. Without waivers, some employers said, they would have increased premiums or dropped coverage this year because they could not afford to provide higher health benefits.
UPDATE: Speaking of waivers, the GAO recently issued this report on health care waivers. It found little to support suspicions that waiver decisions have been driven by political concerns. This report did a better job at explaining how the program operated than has HHS.