Insurance "Accommodation" Unsatisfactory

Special Report - February 15, 2012

Religious and educational leaders across the country are rejecting the Obama Administration’s changes to a new Health and Human Services rules that will require that contraception, abortifacients, and sterilizations be available at no cost through health insurance plans and companies nationwide with very few exceptions. The Administrations amended the rule on February 10, 2012 in response to complaints from religious leaders and organizations about the threat it poses to religious liberty. According to the White House website, “if a woman works for other types of religious employers [than houses of worship] with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage. Instead her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care at no additional charge.” Critics of the rule, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, are unsatisfied with the change.

The USCCB posted a list on their website Monday of “Six More Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate.” The list includes:
  • The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is,” meaning that many of the organizations whose status as “religious employers” does not meet the HHS definition, such as hospitals and charities that serve persons in need regardless of their faith, remain unprotected from the requirement to include contraception, abortifacient, and sterilization coverage in their employee insurance plans.
  • The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt ‘religious employers’ will be forced to cover sterilization,” a point left without clarification in the Administration’s statement Friday.
  • The statement issued by President Obama on Feb. 10 is not an official rule like the objectionable HHS mandate it seeks to address.
  • Because insurance companies will be required to provide free contraception and sterilization to all, including employees of organizations that object to paying for such items, “the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.”
  • The ‘accommodation’ does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals.”
The Becket Fund, which is representing Belmont Abbey College near Charlotte in a lawsuit challenging the mandate, issued a press release on February 10, calling the Administration’s change a “false ‘compromise.’” The Becket Fund argues that the change “does not protect anyone’s conscience.” Notably, they point out that, “thousands of religious organizations self insure, meaning that they will be forced to pay directly for these services in violation of their religious beliefs.” They echo the Bishops’ objection to the exemption not applying to “for-profit organizations, individuals, or non-denominational organizations.”

Additionally, a letter signed by more than 180 leaders around the nation opposes the Administration’s “accommodation.” It states:

The administration will now require that all insurance plans cover (“cost free”) these same products and services [abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception]. Once a religiously-affiliated (or believing individual) employer purchases insurance (as it must, by law), the insurance company will then contact the insured employees to advise them that the terms of the policy include coverage for these objectionable things. This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience, which gave rise to the controversy.

The letter emphasizes, “This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand. It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.” It is signed by 115 professors; 22 university, college, and seminary presidents, deans, and board members; 13 journalists and editors; and 25 scholars, lawyers, and think tanks. Among the notable signers are: John Garvey, Mary Ann Glendon, Robert P. George, Yuval Levin Hertog, George Weigel, Chuck Colson, William J. Bennett, Edward Whelan, Michael Novak, Michael Cromartie, Patrick Fagan, Maggie Gallagher, Charmaine Yoest, J. Budziszewski, and Francis J. Beckwith. Presidents, Deans, or Board Members of the following schools also signed: Benedictine College, Houston Baptist University, Aquinas College, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Christendom College, Union University, Belmont Abbey College, Oklahoma Baptist University, Dordt College, Thomas Aquinas College, East Texas Baptist University, Ave Maria University, DeSales University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Catholic Distance University, Thomas Aquinas College, The Catholic University of America, Baylor University, and Mount St. Mary’s University. Editors for First Things, Public Discourse, and National Review also signed onto the letter.

Related Resources:
Religious Leaders Oppose Mandate - January 31, 2012
Feds Keep Contraceptive Mandate - January 23, 2012
Evangelical College Joins Contraceptive Challenge - December 29, 2011
College Challenges Contraceptive Mandate - November 14, 2011
Administration Requires Free Contraception- August 4, 2011
Becket Fund Defends Belmont Abbey - October 12, 2009
Federal Agency Mandates Abortion Coverage - August 17, 2009

Copyright © 2012. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.

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