Feb 10 2012

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Healthcare Mandates and Presidential Promises Broken

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Government Gone Wild

It appears to have dawned on White House officials that what would have been considered common sense social policy on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, doesn’t translate well for the rest of the country; a place where religious freedom is quaintly viewed as an unfettered constitutional right,  not a regulatory action to please NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

To try to calm the uproar caused by the Obama administration’s decision to force religious organizations to offer contraceptive and abortion medications under the rubric of “preventative medicine” in Obamacare, the President came forth today to offer a modification to the newly announced policy. Today President Obama said:

“Today, we’ve reached a decision on how to move forward.  Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -– no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains. 

But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.

The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly.  Let me repeat:  These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services.  But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they’ll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.”

So, having gotten rid of the military’s version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” President Obama – ironically – is creating a religious version of the same policy to appease the abortion lobby.

It sounds simple, but the crumbs the Administration is tossing to those with religious or conscience objections are something less than a full loaf.

Forget for a moment the questions regarding process. You know, can an employee communicate with an insurance provider to arrange contraceptive coverage on a work email account? Can the insurance company require the employee to list their position and employer on any forms that are required?

The morass that will come of this hasn’t even been fully contemplated yet.

No, the key question is how exactly “contraceptive services” will be offered to women employed by religious organizations free of charge to them, and ostensibly, to  the organization that has the religious objection?

Only in Obamaland are things “free.”

The rest of us work in a world where there is no such thing as a free lunch; eventually someone has to pay.

So who is it?

Listening to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius it appears that the general pooling of health care plans under Obamacare, with the preventative care mandate, will allow enough liquidity to provide contraceptive services at no charge to women in religious organizations.

In that context, it is worth wondering how other citizens might feel about paying to subsidize regulatory minimums for women employed in religious organizations.

And of course, the irony here abounds.

Consider that the very people who fight crosses on public land and protest holiday creches on the town square as some form of final step in a dastardly plan to establish a state religion, would be so excited to mandate and organize what amounts to state-sponsored subsidies to religion-affiliated employees.

But as much as the new HHS regulation has stirred up powerful religious organizations regarding the issue of fundamental constitutional guarantees, the very same regulation lays bear another, less commented on but equally profound reality.

In March 2010, as Obamacare was headed toward its final approval, a raucus fight broke out between pro-life and pro-abortion Democrats over the matter of federal funding for abortion. The crisis ended with a fig leaf executive order, signed by the President, which re-affirmed existing policy on federal funding for abortion. It was enough to keep pro-life Democrats in line, allowing Obamacare to pass.

But in delegating enormous authority to unelected government functionaries, Obamacare has allowed the Administration and the pro-abortion lobby to effectively declare abortion – in the form of RU-486/the Morning After Pill – as mandatory, cost-free preventative medicine, in addition to sterilization and contraception.

It is one thing for insurance companies to provide access to contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing medication to interested customers. It is another entirely for the US government to mandate that the medications and procedures be provided cost free to everyone.

Indeed, Obamacare provides government subsidies to poorer Americans to make healthcare more affordable. If those subsidies are provided under the mandate just approved by HHS, is the government not now subsidizing abortion in contravention of the President’s Executive Order and existing law?

Which informs the real issue here, that has been distorted by the religious implications of the rule.

The core question here is not whether religious organizations can be compelled to offer medication or services in contravention of faith, or whatever compromises can be pulled from the President. That is a real question but ultimately, constitutionally suspect, and given recent Supreme Court rulings, most likely to be overturned.

No, the question in fact is why HHS has been allowed to define preventative care in a manner that clearly exceeds what any ordinary American would understand as such.

The Democrats get this.  They know they are on thin ice. Listen to the rhetoric carefully here.

No talk of RU-486 or abortion as a preventative service.  Keep focused on contraceptives, which are widely used, and repeat again and again how common the medication is.

Keep moving, nothing to see here, on to the next issue.

But the dead give away on the weakness of the rule is the reliance on a higher authority.

Had some career schleps at HHS recommended the guidelines, they would have been laughed off the stage.  So, the Obama adminstration sought out an seemingly uncontested authority – in this case, the august Institute of Medicine.

So of course there is no argument, push back or reconsideration.  Afterall, these are the experts. Liberals and progressives never doubt the experts. In the presence of experts, the rest of us are required to sit down and shut up.

 It is no different than the hollow politics of the green movement when man-made climate change is considered “settled science.”

But nothing is ever settled in science, as we learn more each day.

And simply because a panel of experts makes recommendations on what they believe to be core preventative medicine does not mean that the recommendations should be adopted without appropriate public debate and consideration.

This is what the religious objections that are filling the airwaves right now are obscuring.

There is no better example of the dangers of one-size-fits-all, government-knows-best policy development than the new Obama preventative care mandate.

All the more reason to scrap this new mandate with Obamacare proper.





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