Michelle Malkin

How’s That Obamacare Waiver Workin’ Out for Ya?

By Michelle Malkin - Friday, November 16, 2012

Exactly two years ago this week, the Obama administration announced it had issued more than 100 waivers en masse to a select group of companies, unions and other health insurance providers seeking relief from the onerous federal health care law. The Obamacare waiver winner’s club now totals 2,000. Where are they now?

Answer: In the same miserable boat as every other unlucky business struggling with the crushing costs and burdens of the mandate.

Among the first and most prominent recipients of the Obamacare waivers for favors were large restaurant chains that provide low-wage, seasonal and part-time workers with low-cost health insurance plans called “mini-med” plans. An estimated 1.7 million workers benefit from such plans. Obamacare forced companies carrying such coverage to raise their minimum limits on coverage to no less than $750,000 annually. Another Obamacare provision forces all employers to spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of their premium revenue on medical care.

The social justice Democrats’ goal was to dictate insurance provider spending not just on coverage amounts, but also on executive salaries, marketing and other costs. The regulation punished companies with mini-med plans whose high administrative costs were due to frequent worker turnover and relatively low spending on claims — not “greed.” Complying with the provision would have meant tens of thousands of low-income workers would lose their benefits altogether.

Darden Restaurants, the Florida-based parent company of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and other chains, was a member of the Obamacare waiver early bird special. Their get-out-of-Obamacare card helped spare the company’s health insurance benefits for nearly 34,000 employees. Breathing a sigh of relief that it would allow chains to continue offering all employees access to affordable health insurance, Darden said in a statement in the fall of 2010 that “the waiver allows us to continue to do that as the various phases of the health care law are implemented.”

Fast-forward to 2012. Darden announced last month that it would begin shifting full-time workers to part-time status to save money, cut health costs and circumvent Obamacare’s coverage mandate scheduled for full implementation in 2014. The move would reduce full-time employees’ hours to less than 30 hours a week; part-time workers are exempt from the insurance mandate. McDonald’s, another big Obamacare waiver recipient, is considering the same move.

In fact, a survey of members of the Chain Restaurant Compensation Association (CRCA) conducted last year by Hay Group reported that a whopping 77 percent of “quick serve” restaurant operators said they were considering reducing employee hours to change their status from full-time to part-time. At least one Denny’s restaurant franchise owner in Florida is cutting hours and has openly contemplated an Obamacare surcharge. Jimmy John’s and Papa John’s are also slashing work hours. Applebee’s is mulling a freeze on both hiring and expansion.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a race-neutral truth. But economically illiterate Obama supporters have now called for boycotts of these businesses and accused them of vengeful “racism” against the president. Instead of sympathy and gratitude for private businesses trying to do right by their workers, customers and shareholders, the corporate-bashers inundated Twitter this week with profanity-laced condemnations of the restaurant service industry. One protester tweeted: “@Applebees Your CEO is a racist piece of (redacted), he not hiring because Obama was elected…U WILL LOSE CUSTOMERS.”

“Red Lobster, Olive Garden (are) using Obama re-election as an excuse to deny employees benefits and living wages,” Jon Marquis fumed.

Twitter user Daphine Walker sent unhinged, ungrammatical messages to Red Lobster and Olive Garden in all-caps: “I WILL NEVER SPEND ANOTHER CENT ON THIS RACIST COMPANY WHO DOESNT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYEES.”

The CEO of Red Lobster and Olive Garden is black. But no matter. Regardless of the actual facts, economic realities and entirely predictable and inevitable consequences of command-and-control government mandates, it’s always about identity politics for the Obama grievance mob. In good times and bad, the left never grants waivers from the race card.


Michelle Malkin is a conservative blogger, columnist, regular Fox News contributor, and author of many New York Times bestselling books.

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13 Responses to “How’s That Obamacare Waiver Workin’ Out for Ya?”

  1. Gill O’Teen says:

    Mrs. Malkin, the CEO of Red Lobster and Olive Garden is not a black. When he refused to drop his pants and grab his ankles for the incompetent won, he was voted off that island. Now he is just an Uncle Tom Oreo, a variety of mulatto.

    It is becoming painfully obvious that those who think like the twits you quoted above would be much happier if these selfish businesses just shut down and laid-off all their workers, as the company which manufacturers the prime fried twinkie ingredient just did because it could not reach an affordable agreement with the unionistas.

    • William Henry says:

      You need to understand, Darden is a corporation that has a board and the main goal of corporations is MAKE A PROFIT for investors. The only racist people are the Obamazombies, they don't care about jobs, profits, or anything else. The ObamaCare mandate has been a burden on all businesses and it does cut into profits. Obama wants to increase tax on people who invest and give jobs. I applaud these restaurants for changing the rules and I hope the obamazombies take notice Obama doesn't give a crap about their plight.

    • Conserv O'Crat says:

      Yep. Darden follow Hostess. It's the only way. Take your life or they will take it for you.

  2. Andrew says:

    Obama's mission to remake America into the biggest (now poorest) 3rd world nation is right on track. With all these health care regulations (as well as EPA) about to come online, we are gonna overtake India as the planets biggest mega-regulation nation.

    At least America will number in something…

  3. Lawrence Ekdahl, says:

    It does not matter to those who don't work and are nothing but takers. They will always vote for anyone who will give them other peoples money and the rest of America can go to hell.

  4. Thomas says:

    Lefties will never get it…every time they make a new regulation/tax targeted at specific groups they don't like (mostly those who are successful), those groups invariably CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR in order to avoid the regulations/taxes. Net result: zero sum. And the "victims" cry ever more loudly.

    But Amerika has always done everything the hard way. She will have to collapse entirely before folks will pay attention and regain (or gain for the first time) some sense.

  5. Larry says:

    Perhaps Obama can solve this unfortunate set back with another Executive Order requiring all employers to grant 40 hours per week to their employees. He can do that…right? Of course he can!

  6. Trinidad A. Williams says:

    New policies put into effect will usually find its' level – taper to a new awareness in conducting business practices' that adjust to rational profit margin. Business' that pull back on excuses' that it is too expensive by cutting back hours' that their employees need to make working for the establishment worthwhile … also cut back on quality of service and product line – cut diligence of earnest painstaking employees … cutting down on cleanliness and service knowhow that is hopefully the backbone of their business … in other words, their reluctance to provide good health coverage to employees may serve to cut their own noses' off and be competitive. As for "Twinkies" – I credit their progressive style of ready-made packaged baked sweets the reason for the "fat" generations' that have eaten of similar wares' for generations … the attitude and closing of their fat factories will be a good turn to society … people will be leaner and less prone to modern day ailments' that stem have contributed to poor health ,,, and again, goes to show those that have gotten fat off the population never had good intentions to begin with. Go cry for corporation, Michelle.

    • Dave says:

      Wow. You lefties are so devoid of any business sense or understanding of real world realities it is absolutely breathtaking.

    • texas wolfie says:

      You Sir, start a new business in this new climate and show us all how it is done! Whats that? You don't know how? Typical liberal..

  7. Jake says:

    I'd recommend anyone to read THE MYTH OF THE RATIONAL VOTER by Bryan Caplan. (I mention it under today's column in particular because the book deals largely in economics.)

  8. David says:

    So, who is John Gault?

  9. Bill says:

    It does not surprise me one bit that this incoherent splat of gibberish as another laughable attempt of an ignorant leftist lib trying to sound unnaturally intelligent is another example of profound incompetence; and the ONLY one of all these responses that is not even comprehensible. The only thing that is clear in that diatribe of petty whining is “give us more, whether earned or not.”. You hand-out hardliners really don’t get it do you? You really believe that those who have put in all the work, all the risk, all the make or break effort to be successful, really owe anything to anyone just for showing up? Really? No, they will willingly give a hand up to those that are willing to give a worthy hand toward success of an enterprise that is quite honestly the lifeblood if each employee and their family. Your idea is, suck off the ‘establishment’ as long as you can, then once you have helped to ruin a good thing and they go belly-up, you just go find another sugar daddy. Get a life, really. And learn to write or speak, too. Blessed is the man who having nothing to say abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.

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