Restaurant chain partnering with White House anti-obesity campaign received ObamaCare Waiver

By Grant Bosse on September 15, 2011
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Today, a top national restaurant chain partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move childhood anti-obesity campaign. Last year, that same company received a waiver exempting it from some of the most stringent mandates of ObamaCare.

Michelle Obama visited an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, Maryland today as Darden Restaurants announced that it would reduce the amount of calories and sodium in its menu by 20% over the next decade.

Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse, Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, and Seasons 52, received a waiver from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on October 26, 2010 allowing the company to avoid some of the insurance mandates of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare. The law eventually outlaws “mini-med” plans to offer low benefit levels to low-wage employees. But companies can keep their mini-med plans if they can show that they couldn’t afford to comply with the law.

Darden and other waiver recipients will be allowed to keep offering their employees minimal insurance benefits, while competitors without a waiver will need to offer more generous medical plans. The restaurant industry is among the leaders in winning waivers from HHS, including McDonald’s and Carlson Restaurants, which owns T.G.I.Fridays.

Darden has 34,000 employees nationwide. So far, HHS has granted 1,472 waivers to companies, unions, and states, affecting nearly 3.6 million employees.

HHS has denied waiver requests for companies with 633,000 employees. The Department will cease issuing waivers at the end of this month.

According to the Associated Press, Darden serves 400 million meals annually at 1,900 American restaurants. Today, it pledged to reduce the calorie count and sodium in its food by 10% over the next five years and 20% over the next decade. It will also include a side of fruit or vegetables and a glass of one-percent milk for children’s meals, unless an adult asks for a substitute.

AP Video of Michelle Obama at Darden Announcement

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8 Comments For This Post So Far

  1. Debbi
    3:55 pm on September 16th, 2011

    I applaud Michele Obama & the restaurants. Who doesn’t to be healthy?!? It would behoove other restaurants to follow their lead. The breadsticks and cheese biscuits etc… are yummy. However, they have way too much sodium in them. I usually look for healthy choices (no not just rabbit food) on their menus, already, Good for then!!! As a matter of fact, I have a gift certificate for them. I look forward to dining out soon.

  2. Robbins Mitchell
    8:30 pm on September 16th, 2011

    Many thanks for listing the restaurant chains involved….now I know which ones to avoid from in the future

  3. Brian
    11:40 pm on September 17th, 2011

    Pretty sad. Olive Garden was my favorite restaurant. Not only are they going to play politics, they are going with blander food too. Campbell Soups tried cutting salt and the result was terrible soups flavored by sea salt. Recently, they switched back because of declining sales. The last thing I ever want to consider when I go out is eating healthy. I get that when I stay home. Besides, I also have different dietary needs anyway.

  4. Dee
    9:02 am on September 18th, 2011

    Well now seems like to me Obama needs to buy votes in the ELECTION FOR 2012 since Michelle is out there lining up Restaurants that will be getting WAIVERS to vote for the ILLEGAL MUSLIM OBAMA………….

  5. Renia
    1:41 pm on September 18th, 2011

    Come on America, how stupid do they think we are! If you don’t have enough common sense to know what’s good for you and/or how to get the benefits from God’s bounty, then you deserve another 4 years of OBAMAnation! Solution is pretty simp…le, Stop eating out! Grow your own, it’s cheaper, you know what’s in it and it’s a heck of a lot better for you than the crap our government offers us grown in other countries under their regulations (not ours), if they have any at all.

  6. leann schadt
    12:06 pm on September 19th, 2011

    if u really want to stop people from being over weight get rid of all the drive thur window………………if u want it bad enough park the car and go get it. fast food wont do this cause it will hurt their wallet . what was it like before the drive thur window????

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