We report, you decide: “Waivers for Favors” in health reform

An unfair charge regarding the implementation of health reform.

I’ve corresponded offline with Avik Roy about his column today titled “Obama Administration Says It Will End “Waivers for Favors” The column starts out:

Having succeeded at exempting a rash of labor unions, much of Nancy Pelosi’s district, the AARP, and other favored groups from costly aspects of Obamacare, the White House appears to have decided that its work is done.

Avik added a link to a recently-released GAO report. He writes:

UPDATE: Harold Pollack rightly suggests that, out of fairness, I link to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, which takes a more benign view of the Obamacare waivers program. Peter Suderman has some helpful commentary on the GAO report.

I appreciate that Avik added the link. I still believe his column and headline are unfair. GAO performed an actual audit study of this waiver program, finding that it operates as the administration stated it did, granting or refusing waivers based on objective and explicit criteria. One can agree or disagree with this waiver program. I myself find the waivers a distasteful short-term compromise to prevent large immediate rate hikes in plans that offer poor coverage.

Still, I think the process has been conducted with integrity under difficult political and administrative circumstances. It’s not right to imply otherwise. But don’t take my word for it. Read Roy’s and Suderman’s columns and then the GAO report, and you decide.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

3 thoughts on “We report, you decide: “Waivers for Favors” in health reform”

  1. Harold:

    Avik Roy is a dishonest, dishonorable coward. To be a little more charitable, he’s one of a half-dozen or so conservative/center-right wonks who surrendered their principles and policy preferences to Mitch McConnell’s and Jim DeMint’s “Waterloo” strategy on HCR, and was then apparently driven mad at the outcome. They sold their soul to devil, then didn’t get what they’d bargained for.

Comments are closed.