The Obama administration’s so-called “retreat” on its hyper-controversial refusal to give a waiver to religiously-affiliated organizations (but not actual places of worship, which do get a waiver) from having to provide health insurance covering birth control, the “morning after” pill, and sterilization services to employees, is more a step sideways than backwards.
Instead of having to provide that coverage within employer-funded insurance, institutions like Catholic or Lutheran hospitals and universities can opt out of that coverage being included. BUT, the health insurance company will then be required to contact each employee directly and offer that same coverage free of charge.
Liberal Catholics who were strong supporters of Barack Obama and Obamacare are desperate to find this result acceptable. From the LA Times:
“The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed,” CHA president Sister Carol Keehan said in a statement. “We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished.”
But the administration’s “retreat” is a distinction without a difference on multiple levels.
First, since the employee would not be contacted by this insurer without the employer having purchased an insurance plan, the employer is still paying for the health insurance coverage.
Second, the coverage is not actually “free.” There may be no further cost for the employee and no co-pay for getting the covered drugs or services, but pills and doctors are not free. The cost is built into the total cost of the policy, and therefore, again, the employer is still paying for the coverage.
Third, if for Catholics (and others) the use of birth control pills and other reproduction-related drugs and services is a sin, then this rule requires that any health insurer which provides insurance to a religious organization then go tempt that organzation’s employees into a behavior which the employer considers to be a sin. Again, the temptation offered to the employee is only possible because the religious organization buys the insurance policy.
Fourth, the new Obama position would be close to reasonable if the employee in question would have to pay for the additional coverage not included by the employer. In that case, the employer could have a reasonably rational and moral case that they are not paying for the coverage. But as my “Access This!” article notes, for the radical left, this isn’t about free exercise of religion, it’s about government domination and inculcating dependence through the destruction of personal responsibility.
Left-leaning Catholics struggling to find any fig leaf with which to accept the administration’s so-called retreat are fooling themselves and others if they believe this modification is substantially different in impact from the policy which they were rightly screaming about just hours ago.
Any government with the slightest respect for the Constitution or conscience, if they were to involve themselves where they have no business—such as in federal regulation of health insurance—would reach the exact opposite conclusion from the new Obama rule. Health insurance companies should be prohibited from, not required to, offer free contraception and sterilization to the employees of organizations which are morally opposed to the use of such products.
The new Obama administration rule is no less tyrannical than the old.