Pelosi’s District Reaps Obamacare Waivers

Published May 31, 2016

Of the 204 new waivers from President Barack Obama’s health care law the administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs, and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.

That’s in addition to the 27 new waivers for health care or drug companies and the 31 new union waivers Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved.

Pelosi’s district secured almost 20 percent of the latest issuance of waivers nationwide, and the companies that won them didn’t have much in common with companies throughout the rest of the country that have received Obamacare waivers. Common waiver recipients include labor union chapters, large corporations, financial firms, and local governments. Pelosi’s district’s waivers are the first major examples of luxurious gourmet restaurants and hotels getting a year-long pass from Obamacare.

Waivers for High-End Establishments

Boboquivari’s restaurant in Pelosi’s district in San Francisco, which advertises $59 porterhouse steaks, $39 filet mignons, and $35 crab dinners, got a waiver from Obamacare. So did Café des Amis, which describes its eating experience as “a timeless Parisian style brasserie” which is “located on one of San Francisco’s premier shopping and strolling boulevards, Union Street.”

The Franciscan Crab restaurant (with entrees from $15 to $60) on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco also got a waiver. The Franciscan’s general manager didn’t respond to requests for comment. Four-star hotel Campton Place got a waiver too, as did Hotel Nikko San Francisco, which describes itself as “four-diamond luxury in the heart of the city.”

Café Mason, a diner near San Francisco’s Union Square, got a waiver too. When this reporter asked the manager about the waiver and how the president’s new sweeping federal health care law was affecting his restaurant, he hung up the phone.

Giving Leeway

The San Francisco upper-class eateries received waivers from Obamacare because it apparently cost them too much to meet the law’s first year requirements. The Obama administration says it has given out waivers to exempt certain companies or policyholders from “annual limit requirements.”

According to an official HHS statement, the applications for the waivers are “reviewed on a case by case basis by department officials who look at a series of factors including whether or not a premium increase is large or if a significant number of enrollees would lose access to their current plan because the coverage would not be offered in the absence of a waiver.”

The waivers don’t allow a company a permanent release from implementing Obamacare’s stipulations, but companies can reapply for waivers annually through 2014.

“No Comment”

San Francisco Honda, which has two of its three locations in Pelosi’s district, and San Francisco’s Royal Motors Group both got waivers too. Blue & Gold Fleet, which describes itself as “the Bay Area’s premier provider of Bay Cruise, Ferry Service and Motorcoach Tours,” got an Obamacare waiver approved in April. None of these companies responded to requests for comment.

Nightclub Infusion Lounge got an Obamacare waiver approved in April too. Infusion Lounge calls itself a “sophisticated nightlife destination” as a “true ultra lounge catering to both dancing hipsters and young professionals looking to relax in style.” Infusion Lounge’s owners didn’t respond to requests for comment either.

Simco Restaurants and several other affiliated chains based in the area got waivers for their businesses as well. Gordon Yoshida, the manager of memorabilia store Only in San Francisco, said Sandra Fletcher of Simco walked him through the process of getting an Obamacare waiver. Fletcher did not return requests for comment.

Tru Spa, which Allure Magazine rated the “best day spa in San Francisco,” received an Obamacare waiver as well. Tru Spa’s owner said new government health care regulations, both the federal-level Obamacare and new local laws in Northern California, have “devastated” the business.

“It’s been bad for us,” he said, without divulging his name, referring to the new health care restrictions. But he wouldn’t say why his company had sought a waiver. He hung up after saying, “I’ve got clients on the other line, good-bye.”

Pelosi’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Matthew Boyle ([email protected]) is a contributing reporter at The Daily Caller, where this article first appeared. Reprinted with permission.