Early waiver denials went mostly to unions

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Republicans have also emphasized that the waivers have gone not only to businesses, but also unions — implying that Democrats’ political allies have received preferential treatment. But the list obtained by The Hill contradicts that suggestion.

The department had granted 1,040 waivers at the end of February. That number has since climbed to more than 1,300. The department says it has denied 92 waiver requests but has declined to publicly release a list of denials.

The waivers exempt plans from healthcare reform’s restrictions on annual benefit limits. Plans that cap per-year spending, known as “mini-meds,” are often provided to low-wage workers and will become illegal in 2014.

But the administration grants waivers to preserve coverage until then, saying companies that provide mini-meds would likely quit offering any health care coverage if they had to provide comprehensive plans right away.