- - Friday, January 28, 2011

If you would like to know what the White House really thinks of Obamacare, there’s an easy way. Look past its press releases. Ignore its promises. Forget its talking points. Instead, simply witness for yourself the outrageous way the White House protects its best friends from Obamacare.

Last year, we learned that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had granted 111 waivers to protect a lucky few from the onerous regulations of the new national health care overhaul. That number quickly and quietly climbed to 222, and last week we learned that the number of Obamacare privileged escapes has skyrocketed to 733.

Among the fortunate is a who’s who list of unions, businesses and even several cities and four states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee) but none of the friends of Barack feature as prominently as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

How can you get your own free pass from Obamacare? Maybe you can just donate $27 million to President Obama’s campaign efforts. That’s what Andy Stern did as president of SEIU in 2008. He has been the most frequent guest at Mr. Obama’s White House.

Backroom deals have become par for the course for proponents of Obamacare. Senators were greased with special favors, like Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and his Cornhusker Kickback and Louisiana Democrat Sen. Mary L. Landrieu and her Louisiana Purchase. Even the American Medical Association was brought in line under threat of losing its exclusive and lucrative medical coding contracts with the government.

Not only are the payoffs an affront to our democracy and an outright assault on our taxpayers, the timing itself of the latest release makes a mockery of this administration’s transparency promises. More than 500 of the 733 waivers, we now know, were granted in December but kept conveniently under wraps until the day after the president’s State of the Union address. HHS is no stranger to covering up bad news; in fact, this is becoming a disturbing pattern. Last year, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius hid from Congress until after the Obamacare vote a damning report from the Medicare and Medicaid Office of the Actuary showing Obamacare would cost $311 billion more than promised and would displace 14 million Americans from their current insurance.

For this administration, transparency promises last only until the teleprompter is unplugged.

Backroom deals and cover-ups may be business as usual for Washington, but understanding why the Obama administration protects its friends from Obamacare offers special insight into what the purveyors of the mandate themselves think about their own law. This is key: The waivers aren’t meant to protect victims from unintended consequences of Obamacare; they are meant to exempt them from the very intentional increased costs of health insurance that the law causes. Under Section 2711 of the Public Health Service Act, Obamacare increases the annual cap of insurance benefits, which sounds great - as does everything else in big government - until the bill comes due, in this case, in the form of higher insurance premiums.

In short, the administration has decided that you will face increased health insurance premiums, but special friends in the unions will not. Look closely, and you’ll see not only the White House’s duplicity but also what the Obama administration really thinks of its crown jewel, Obamacare. White House words say that the annual insurance benefit cap is a feature of the program, but its actions say that it’s a bug.

The question remains: If Obamacare is such a great law, why does the White House keep protecting its best friends from it?

Our democracy cannot allow a president to exercise the unholy power of picking and choosing winners and losers, of choosing who must follow his flawed laws and who gets a free pass. If any American deserves a waiver from Obamacare, then all Americans do.

It was Mr. Obama himself who infamously said, “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends.” This president speaks anything but softly, and Obamacare is his big stick.

It’s time to give every American his own waiver: Repeal Obamacare.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a board-certified diagnostic radiologist, medical director and cousin of President Obama. He blogs daily at miltonwolf.com.