Religious Liberty: The Latest Target of Obamacare

The Obama administration announced today it will wait for a year (coincidentally until after the elections) before requiring religious organizations to comply with an Obamacare mandate that they provide coverage for contraception — including controversial drugs that can abort an early pregnancy.

This started with a decision by the Obama administration last summer listing the “preventive” services that must be covered by health plans under Obamacare without charge to patients, and the list included contraception.

This is another assault on the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the federal regulation an “unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.”

The Obamacare regulation gives faith-based institutions, like Catholic universities and hospitals, the choice of violating the fundamental tenets of their faith by covering the federally mandated coverage in their employee health plans, or of dropping health insurance for their employees — in which case they would be fined for violating the employer mandate.

This is an outrage. Belmont Abbey, a private Catholic college located in North Carolina, is being joined by several other universities in suing the government over the mandate. The administration gave religious organizations a very narrow exemption from the mandate, only if the group’s employees are primarily of one faith and primarily serve members of that faith.

Belmont Abbey says that Catholic universities that employ non-Catholic professors or Catholic hospitals that provide care to non-Catholics don’t qualify.  Even Jesus wouldn’t qualify as religious under the regulation’s definition, the Bishops wrote in earlier comments about the rule!

USCBB president Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has established a Bishop’s committee on religious liberty, headed by Bridgeport, Ct., bishop William Lori.  The committee is going to have a great deal of work to do in defending the faith against Obamacare’s many assaults.

As I told Kathryn Lopez for a recent article, there is a war on religion from the Left, and it is very dangerous to the institutions that make our civil society function.

The Catholic Church historically has been a vital part of the safety net — providing aid for the poor, care for the sick, shelter and food for the homeless, and care for mothers in need, as a few examples.

The health-care law threatens to tear gaping holes in that safety net by forcing Catholic health plans to cover contraception, by denying funds to Catholic adoption agencies, and ultimately by forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to fund abortion.

This is dangerous to the very fabric of our society. It’s a crucial reason why the whole health law, with its centralized control over health-care decisions, must not stand.

Posted on National Review Online: The Corner, January 20, 2012.

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The Obama administration announced today it will wait for a year (coincidentally until after the elections) before requiring religious organizations to comply with an ObamaCare mandate that they provide coverage for contraception — including controversial drugs that can abort an early pregnancy.

This is an outrage. This all started with a decision by the Obama administration last summer listing the “preventive” services that must be covered by health plans under ObamaCare without any charge to patients. The list included contraception.

This is another assault on the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the federal regulation an “unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.”

The ObamaCare regulation gives faith-based institutions, like Catholic universities and hospitals, the choice of violating the fundamental tenets of their faith by covering the federally mandated coverage in their employee health plans, or dropping health insurance for their employees — in which case they would be fined for violating the law’s employer mandate.

Belmont Abbey, a private Catholic college located in North Carolina, is being joined by several other universities in suing the government over the mandate. The administration gave religious organizations a very narrow exemption, only if the group’s employees are primarily of one faith and primarily serve members of that faith.

Belmont Abbey says that Catholic universities that employ non-Catholic professors or Catholic hospitals that provide care to non-Catholics don’t qualify. Even Jesus wouldn’t qualify as religious under the regulation’s definition, the Bishops wrote in earlier comments about the rule!

USCBB president Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has established a Bishop’s committee on religious liberty, headed by Bridgeport, CT, Bishop William Lori. The committee is going to have a great deal of work to do in defending the faith against ObamaCare’s many assaults.

As I told the wonderfully faithful Kathryn Lopez for a recent article she wrote for the National Catholic Register, There is a war on religion from the Left, and it is very dangerous to the institutions that make our civil society function.

The Catholic Church historically has been a vital part of the safety net — providing aid for the poor, care for the sick, shelter and food for the homeless, and care for mothers in need, as a few examples.

The health care law threatens to tear gaping holes in that safety net by forcing Catholic health plans to cover contraception, by denying funds to Catholic adoption agencies, and ultimately by forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to fund abortion.

This is dangerous to the very fabric of our society. It’s a crucial reason why the whole health law, with its centralized control over health care decisions, must not stand.

*****

State exchanges lag: The president visited Disney World on Thursday, but the real Fantasyland announcement came from a White House report on Wednesday pretending that states are proceeding to set up ObamaCare health exchanges.

The White House claims that 28 states are “on their way” to establishing exchanges, clearly trying to deceive states into believing “all the other states are moving ahead, so we might as well, too.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. This chart tells the real story:

(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)

Only a handful of states are making meaningful progress, and most are waiting to see what happens with the Supreme Court decision. Louisiana, Florida, Arkansas, Texas, and now Wisconsin are refusing to take any action. Even big blue states like New York and California that are on board with ObamaCare have made little progress in actually setting up exchanges. And the red states that have taken action are doing it only as a defensive maneuver to keep the federal government from moving in and taking even greater control over their health care markets.

This report was a desperate move by the White House to try to show progress on exchanges in light of strong state resistance. If states refuse to set up these hugely expensive, complex, and intrusive exchanges, the federal government will be required to set them up. Assuming the feds could even do it, that would lead to a whole new wave of resistance against the unpopular law.

*****

Kudos to the House: After the administration acknowledged there was no way to implement the ObamaCare’s long-term care program, a “Ponzi scheme of the first order,” the House Ways and Means Committee voted this week to strike the CLASS Act provision from the health overhaul law. The Energy and Commerce Committee, which also has jurisdiction, reported out a similar bill in November.

The measure is ready to move to the floor of the House for a full vote within the next two weeks.

Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kind joined a united GOP caucus in support of the repeal bill, (HR 1173), approved 23-13 by the Ways and Means Committee. Three Democrats joined all the Republicans in supporting repeal in the earlier Energy and Commerce vote.

It’s crucial to repeal this program. If the Supreme Court were to allow the individual mandate to stand, it would mean that a future Congress could require us to buy long-term care insurance, just as they require us under ObamaCare to buy health insurance. And that would only be the beginning.

*****

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s latest small business survey reinforced the fears that ObamaCare already is killing jobs. It found that 74% of small businesses surveyed say the recent health care law makes it harder for their business to hire more employees.

And it is only going to get worse! The best jobs program that Congress could offer is to repeal ObamaCare.

*****

CLIP OF THE WEEK

Grace-Marie Turner on Butler on Business

In this interview for Butler on Business, Grace-Marie Turner discusses how the health overhaul law already is driving up health insurance costs for businesses and consumers and will inflict even higher costs on American taxpayers in the years ahead. Listen now >>

GALEN IN THE NEWS

Private Health Insurers Are Being Driven Out Of The Markets, Affecting Millions

Grace-Marie Turner

Forbes: Health Matters, 01/17/12

Even before the health overhaul law fully takes effect in 2014, health insurers are dropping out of markets in many states. Some of the carriers are leaving because of onerous state regulations, others are victims of a faltering economy, but costly new federal rules and regulations and the many more that are to come as a result of PPACA are accelerating the exodus. Carriers don’t want to leave the customers and markets they have been serving, often for decades, but they are being forced to walk away from significant investments in many states to cut anticipated losses. Individuals, small businesses, and people buying child-only policies are being hit in the first wave of dropped coverage. This is a negative and destructive trend, leaving fewer carriers to serve these markets and giving small businesses and the insurance agents who serve them less leverage to negotiate better benefits and lower rates among competing companies.
Read More »

HEALTH REFORM

Where to start in repealing Obamacare
Sally C. Pipes, The Washington Examiner, 01/17/12

Why doctors might be turning on ‘ObamaCare’
Marc Siegel, USA Today, 01/18/12

Cutting health-care spending the old-fashioned way
Robert Samuelson, The Washington Post, 01/16/11

Accounting for the cost of U.S. health care: Pre-reform trends and the impact of the recession
Jesse W. Bradford, Ph.D., David G. Knott, Ph.D., Edward H. Levine, M.D., Rodney W. Zemmel, Ph.D., McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform, 12/11

Small Business Outlook Survey
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 01/12

MEDICARE AND MEDICAID

CBO: Medicare cost-cutting programs haven’t worked
Sam Baker, The Hill: Healthwatch, 01/18/12

Obama: Shunning Growth in Food Stamps, Boasting Growth in Medicaid
Merrill Matthews, Forbes: Right Directions, 01/19/12

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

End Obamacare’s taxes before they end lifesaving medical advances
Sally C. Pipes, The Washington Examiner, 01/18/12

The public health implications of unsafe drugs
Roger Bate, Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations, 01/18/12

EVENTS

Beyond the Individual Mandate: Why ObamaCare Must Be Repealed
The Heritage Foundation
Thursday, January 26, 2012
12:00pm – 1:30pm
Washington, DC
Grace-Marie Turner will speak at this event.

If You Like What You Have, Can You Keep It? PPACA and Employer-Sponsored Insurance
e21 Event
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
3:00pm – 4:00pm
Washington, DC

Health Care Reform: A Different Path – Current Federal Plan May Be Bad For Your Health
Orange County Forum
Thursday, February 2, 2012
11:30am – 1:00pm
Irvine, CA

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