Saturday, February 11, 2012

The obligatory 1st amendment shredding update


So, amidst the growing firestorm regarding Team O's decision to force Catholic employers to provide contraceptives free of charge to their employees, Friday came and with it, the expected walk-back. Or was it?

The Obama administration has revised its controversial mandate that had forced religious employers to pay for health insurance coverage that includes birth control and drugs like Plan B, the morning after pill, and ella that can cause abortions.

Responding to a firestorm of opposition from pro-life organizations, Catholics groups and even some Democrats, the Obama administration has revised the mandate in a way that pro-life advocates are saying is even worse.

The revised Obama mandate will make religious groups contract with insurers to offer birth control and the potentially abortion-causing drugs to women at no cost. The revised mandate will have religious employers refer women to their insurance company for coverage that still violates their moral and religious beliefs. Under this plan, every insurance company will be obligated to provide coverage at no cost.

Essentially, religious groups will still be mandated to offer plans that cover both birth control and the ella abortion drug

According to Obama administration officials on a conference call this morning, a woman’s insurance company “will be required to reach out directly and offer her contraceptive care free of charge. The religious institutions will not have to pay for it.”

The birth control and abortion-causing drugs will simply be “part of the bundle of services that all insurance companies are required to offer,” White House officials said.

“We are actually more comfortable having the insurance industry offer and market this to women than religious institutions,” the White House said on the conference call LifeNews listened to because they “understand how contraception works” and it “makes sense financially.”

The policy will have insurance companies create a policy not including birth control and early abortion drug coverage in the contract for religious employers who don’t want it but the company must also simultaneously offer that coverage to all employees without charging any additional premiums. The Obama administration believe this will save health insurance companies money by preventing pregnancies that may otherwise require the company to pay out additional money to beneficiaries.
(italics, ours)

Uhh, yeah. So, despite the fact that it's not expressly written into the policy, they still have to cover it. This is what passes for legislative and policy-making common sense for the Obama administration: not only incompetent but completely and knowingly devious as well.

If you are wondering what has effectively changed with this "revision", you would not be alone as the U.S. Catholic Bishops are scratching their heads and calling "bullshit" as well:

These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer's plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch. But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today's proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.

Folks, nothing has changed. Merely shifting the cost from the employer to the insurer does not detract from the fact that the employer still must provide those services... whether it's written into the policy or not.

We can't, for the life of us, figure out what Team O hoped to accomplish with this stunt. It hasn't made the fact that they are in violation of the 1st amendment go away and, in fact, has only enhanced the perception of bungling, underhandedly at that.

ObamaCare is still just under 2 years from full implementation and it has already become the epic and ungodly mess we knew it would.

And to another point with respect to the wretchedness that is ObamaCare, University of Chicago economist, John Cochrane reminds us that free just isn't quite as free as you may think (via B-Daddy):

1.Insurance that covers known and expected expenses end up causing those services to be delivered at higher cost because of administrative expense and lack of price competition. This is true of contraception.

2.Even though the goal of the bill was to reduce the cost of health care, mandating coverage of routine services drives up the cost.

3.The purported goal of providing access to contraception is a smoke screen. Birth control isn't outlawed in the U.S. Poor women who can't afford it, aren't in employer sponsored health plans.

4.It's unfair. The elderly, gay and infertile pay higher premiums. "Let's mandate that every time a government official says that the government is going to "help" some category of voter, he or she has to say who they are going to hurt in the same sentence. Because it has to be someone."

As P.J. O'Rourke famously said: "If you think healthcare is expensive now, just wait until it's free."



K T Cat said...

The guy is a fascist.

B-Daddy said...

Thanks for the link. The quote that "it makes sense financially" is such a bald faced lie, that I can't believe that anyone believes this administration.

Doo Doo Econ said...

Obamacare Bear "America's new pet" is being picked up around the intertubes:

It is on flickr, feel free to use the image!

drozz said...

a number of articles have been spewn that obama "punked" the right on this one, as in pulled this move intentionally to expose some kind of idiocy on the religeous right.

i don't get it. how is an explicit breach of the first amendment "punking" anyone? Further, doesn't this kind of legislation just divide people more?

what should frighen people the most is the dangerous precedent this sets: if the gov't can do this to the christians, why wouldn't they do this to any other major religeoun if they deemed it necessary?*

*islam excepted. they are untouchable.

Dean said...

drozz, a) I wasn't aware that our Presidents were in the business of "punking" any of their constiuents. If that is the angle his supporters are aiming for then I commend them on their continued "civility" and "post-partisanship.

And b) I suppose then that making up shit out of thin air now constitutes (i.e. air brushing the mandate from the written policy but still enforcing the mandate) the Obamabot definition of "punking", displaying the towering intellects of the same.