Monday, February 13, 2012

Six More Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate

1. The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is. Friday evening, after a day of touting meaningful changes in the mandate, HHS issued a regulation finalizing the rule first issued in August 2011, “without change.” So religious employers dedicated to serving people of other faiths are still not exempt as “religious employers.” Indeed, the rule describes them as “non-exempt.”

2. The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt “religious employers” will be forced to cover sterilization. In its August 2011 comments, USCCB warned that the narrow “religious employer” exemption appeared to provide no relief from the sterilization mandate—only the contraception mandate—and specifically sought clarification. (We also noted that a sterilization mandate exists in only one state, Vermont.) HHS provided no clarification, so the risk remains under the unchanged final rule.

3. The new “accommodation” is not a current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability. Also on Friday evening, HHS issued regulations describing the intention to develop more regulations that would apply the same mandate differently to “non-exempt, non-profit religious organizations”—the charities, schools, and hospitals that are still left out of the “religious employer” exemption. These policies will be developed over a one-year delay in enforcement, so if they turn out badly, their impact will not be felt until August 2013, well after the election.

4. Even if the promises of “accommodation” are fulfilled entirely, religious charities, schools, and hospitals will still be forced to violate their beliefs. If an employee of these second-class-citizen religious institutions wants coverage of contraception or sterilization, the objecting employer is still forced to pay for it as a part of the employer’s insurance plan. There can be no additional cost to that employee, and the coverage is not a separate policy. By process of elimination, the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.

5. The “accommodation” does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals. In its August 2011 comments, and many times since, USCCB identified all the stakeholders in the process whose religious freedom is threatened—all employers, insurers, and individuals, not just religious employers. Friday’s actions emphasize that all insurers, including self-insurers, must provide the coverage to any employee who wants it. In turn, all individuals who pay premiums have no escape from subsidizing that coverage. And only employers that are both non-profit and religious may qualify for the “accommodation.”

6. Beware of claims, especially by partisans, that the bishops are partisan. The bishops and their staff read regulations before evaluating them. The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year—others did. Bishops form their positions based on principles—here, religious liberty for all, and the life and dignity of every human person—not polls, personalities, or political parties. Bishops are duty bound to proclaim these principles, in and out of season.

Here are USCCB's first "six things" on the HHS mandate.


Unknown said...

Well said. Thank you, Bishops.
If you had risen up with one voice forty years ago you could have overturned Roe v. Wade. The political climate in America was not as antireligious then.

BenCanType said...

Thank you for this.
Can you post the links to some of these things, specifically the wording of the HHS rules?

God Bless. The laity is with you.

Ben Hartford,
St Mary Parish, Hillsboro, NH

Terri Lane said...

Thank you! You make this much easier to understand and discuss. God bless you and your work +

Robin said...

Does anyone remember the Executive Order issued right after the Health Care Bill was approved and signed into law? Our President declared that abortion would NOT be part of the Bill.....
What should we believe????

The Learned Cat said...

Why should for-profit employers be permitted to opt out of the rule providing contraception? I am morally opposed to the use of animals in drug-testing; should I be permitted to opt out of all providing all drugs developed using animal-testing?

Or is it only sex that counts as "religious liberty?"

catholicfeminist said...

Everyonr needs to stand up and fight. Making this out to be about women's health is a farce because under Obamacare, insurance will no longer cover complete blood counts and metabolic panels as part of your annual checkup. The cost of that is over $200 in the Omaha area. Check your own policy! I learned this in dec. when I got my bill and I work for one of the largest retail companies in the world. Birth control is freely available at Planned Parenthood clinics if an individual so chooses. There is no compelling reason to make it free through insurance plans that are contracted agreements between employers and a private company. I daresay more women in the U.S. would benefit from labwork than contraception.

Bob said...

Well written and presented. From here on, our goal should not be compromise with evil, but victory for the Truth.

Patrick Diggins said...

Maybe this has been commented on already so please excuse repeating your comments in replying to my comments. Why are the bishops surprised that Obama betrayed them. The bishops and my own priest supported the Affordable Care Act before it was enacted. I sat through two sermons where it was stated we should support universal health care. Bishop Dolan said on TV last week that he supported the ACA when Obama gave him assurances that the Church would not pay for items he objected to. The Church leaderships support to grow the federal government on my back is objectionable at best. I am glad you are in the fight now and hope you soon realize the evil that is the Affordable Care Act and the dictatorial powers it give an individual in the government. With the stoke of a pen we were put into religious persecution. Who is to say that our live will not be forfeited with the next stroke of the pen. Why have we put our faith in the federal government and not in the hands of God. When I quit drinking I went to church everyday for a solid year and asked God for the strength to overcome my problem. When I was living in a one bedroom apartment with my wife and two children I prayed everyday for God's help and then put my head down and worked to better my life. I did not seek help from the government. The Church leadership has sold out my freedom for coin of the realm, shame on you.

Rex said...

Yes, it's not just religious employers. It's all employers who are affected by this immoral imposition. This is an inexcusable exercise of government power. Thank you, bishops.

Don Anderson said...

This preposterous legislation is not unlike the calamity in Jewish history when in the second century BC the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes entered Jerusalem, sacrificed pigs on the holy altar, ordered the Jews to forsake all of their laws, and killed or tortured all who resisted. Religious persecution has begun openly in America, and if we don't resist now, we won't be able to resist later. I am Baptist, not Catholic, but I know how birth control works, and I know what the Bible says. Birth control pills normally contain estrogen and progestin. The estrogen attempts to stop ovulation to prevent the release of a viable egg. The progestin thickens the mucous in the cervix to make sperm and egg contact more difficult and then makes the uterous wall hostile to the embryo so that it cannot attach and dies. This occurs 5 to 9 days (average 1 week) after conception, causing an abortion of the 1 week old baby. Since many women cannot tolerate the estrogen, they take progestin-only pills, such as mini pills, virtually guaranteeing an abortion. The morning after pill is too late to prevent ovulation, so it is strictly taken to cause an abortion.
Jesus said, "What you have done unto the least of these my brothers, you have done unto me."
The Bible says, "You crucify him afresh and put him to an open shame." Abortion is wrong because the Bible says it is wrong, and the Catholic church is one hundred percent correct in its opposition to birth control and abortion.

Jim Barger said...

In all the flap about religious freedom and the obligation of religious institutions, under "Obama Care," to provide abortion and contraception in employee insurance coverage, no one seems to care that most of us already involuntarily pay for these coverages in our group health care. No one seems to mind that abortion and contraception are not really "health care" at all, but "convenience" issues (like cosmetic surgery, maybe?). Why not pass a law that would allow the insured to "opt out" of any controversial, experimental or "convenience" coverages with a rate reduction? Let those want these coverages pay for them.