House Republican wants everyone to apply for health law waiver

A House Republican is pushing a new bill that would allow individuals to get a waiver from major provisions of the new healthcare reform law, including the so-called individual mandate.

Pointing out that the Obama administration has granted more than 1,000 waivers to organizations for a provision of the law, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said everyone should have the opportunity.

"It’s a matter of fairness," said Rogers, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Health subpanel. "Every American and employer deserves the opportunity to receive a waiver from the new healthcare law if it’s driving up costs and limiting services, not just the politically connected."

The administration says the one-year waivers are a temporary measure to allow low-value insurance plans to operate until new state-based health insurance exchanges open in 2014. The idea, the administration says, is that limited insurance is better than no insurance at all, and consumers will be able to shop for better and more affordable coverage on the exchanges. 

The health department also gave a waiver this week to Maine insurers allowing them a temporary exemption from a requirement to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on healthcare services. 

This story was updated at 12 p.m. to specify that besides the Maine waiver, the administration has granted more than 1,000 waivers for just one provision of the law.