The Daily Caller reported today that approximately 20 percent of the latest ObamaCare waivers given out went to primarily high-priced and luxury establishments in Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s district, which is predominantly the city of San Francisco. This is the first time we see waivers going to small, luxury-oriented establishments. One establishment named True Spa commented that, “said new government health care regulations, both the federal-level ObamaCare and new local laws in Northern California, have ‘devastated’ the business.”
What is particularly interesting about this is Healthy San Francisco. Healthy San Francisco is the universal health plan for residents of San Francisco financed through a tax on businesses. It has requirement for employers with more than 50 employees to offer health coverage. This has resulted in a health care surcharge on many products especially at restaurants. Certainly, advocates will say that this is exactly why the Administration has given them waivers. They are offering universal coverage in a unique manner, and they deserve to be waived out of ObamaCare regulations that impede that. This is consistent with the Administration’s position on flexibility for entities to develop unique health care models.
What is inconsistent is the lack of waivers for free-market proposals. We don’t see the administration furthering proposals to remove mandated benefits or encourage the use of HSAs. We don’t see the Administration pushing block grants so that states like Texas can move to defined contribution models.
The Administration is pursuing their vision of where America should go with health care, and if they can help out a friend on the way, why not? But what helps friends in San Francisco does not help the country bring down health care costs. This situation is inconsistent with granting real flexibility, but it is consistent with policies that give bureaucracies the ability to make decisions over individuals and businesses.