Number of healthcare waivers nears 1,500

The Health and Human Services Department granted 39 new waivers last month from part of the healthcare law, bringing the total to just shy of 1,500.

In September, HHS will stop the process of granting a new batch of one-year waivers at the end of each month. Companies have until Sept. 22 to file their initial application for a one-year reprieve and seek an extension to carry them through the next three years.

Department officials said they decided on the September cutoff because, by then, every company that thinks it needs a waiver would have had time to apply. The comparatively low number of approvals in June may back up that explanation. The 39 new waivers granted last month bring the total to 1,471.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said he will introduce a bill next week to let every American apply for a waiver from the healthcare law.

"Each waiver demonstrates that the president’s health care law is a complete failure," Barrasso said in a statement.

The waivers apply only to certain plans and one part of the healthcare law. Beginning in 2014, the new law bans annual caps on benefits. It requires those caps to gradually increase in the interim.

But some companies would be more likely to quit offering health benefits if forced to comply immediately with the new rules. Those plans, which are most common in the service industry and among low-wage workers, are eligible for waivers. HHS says it has approved more than 95 percent of waiver requests.