updated 6/17/2011 4:55:18 PM ET 2011-06-17T20:55:18

The Obama administration says it will end a controversial health care waiver program in September.

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Officials announced Friday that all applications for new waivers and renewals of existing ones have to be in by Sept. 22.

That would remove a potential political distraction in the 2012 elections.

The waivers deal with a part of the new health care law that restricts annual dollar limits on coverage. They won't be needed when the law goes into full effect in 2014, because taxpayer-subsidized insurance will be broadly available.

Congressional Republicans had charged favoritism, claiming that waivers were being funneled to unions. But an outside review by the Government Accountability Office found that the administration was using objective standards to make its decisions.

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