Right now, I sitting through a House Energy and Commerce committee oversight hearing on the waivers that have been granted to exempt certain businesses from new regulations under the national health care law.
Conservatives have made two main arguments against the waivers — that the need to grant so many waivers shows that the health care law is more destructive than the administration let on, and also that unions have been given special treatment in the waiver process.
“2.5 million people need to literally be protected from the health care bill that was passed,” Rep. Cliff Stearns said, echoing one of those arguments.
But Democrats responded that the willingness of the administration to grant waivers demonstrates that they’re being flexible in implementing the law in the years before it is fully in effect in 2014, and they dismissed the idea of any special treatment.
Rep. Henry Waxman said, “there has been no favoritism to unions” in granting waivers
The committee will hear sworn testimony from two witnesses — Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Jay Agnoff, a senior advisor to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
UPDATE: Waxman later said that the talk of special treatment for unions is “a way to get people angry about unions and to stir up hostility.” He said the attacks on the waiver process are “political propaganda” and part of a larger effort to spread lies intended to discredit the health care law.