Friday, President Obama announced a modification to his HHS Department’s mandate that all employers provide health insurance policies that include free contraceptive services—which include contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients—including those employers with religious objections to this sort of thing. One version of his announcement is here. In sum, the modification allows religious institutions like hospitals and charities to opt out of the requirement, but if they do, their insurance provider must itself and separately provide those services to the institution’s women employees—still free of charge. Does this solve the problem? Where to begin….
Obama made his announcement against his usual backdrop of denigrating those who disagree with him as just playing politics; there couldn’t possibly be legitimate concerns
…as well as, frankly, the cynical desire on the part of some to make this into a political football….
Understand some folks in Washington may want to treat this as another political wedge issue….
which, though, is a minor aspect of his speech. He had this to say, of a more substantive nature:
It’s a lot cheaper to prevent an illness than to treat one. We also accepted a recommendation from the experts at the Institute of Medicine that, when it comes to women, preventive care should include coverage of contraceptive services such as birth control.
…find a way that protects religious liberty and ensures that every woman has access to the care that she needs.
Thus, he continues the fiction that pregnancy is a disease that needs prevention, not a conscious act with lots of very low cost mechanisms for preventing, if prevention truly is wanted. I’m waiting for the hue and cry from yesterday’s feminists.
Nor does the federalism that is the core of our republican democracy matter to him.
This basic principle…is already the law in 28 states across the country.
An exemption…, by the way, that eight states didn’t already have.
If some states do something within their own boundaries, this is sufficient justification for the Federal government to impose it nation-wide. Except when the states don’t already do that something. Then it’s OK for the Federal government to impose it nation-wide.
Under the rule…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 copays and without hassles. The results 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.
If you watch the video, you’ll see that he said these words with a straight face: “the insurance company—not the hospital, not the charity—will be required to [provide] contraceptive care free of charge….” He really thinks the insurance companies won’t pass on the costs for this in the form of higher policy premiums charged those religious institutions—and the employees, since most employer-provided coverages include employee premium-sharing—and in the form of higher premiums generally to everyone.
It’s highly doubtful, also, that he’s considered the likelihood that, when the institutions opt out of the mandate, many insurance companies will simply stop offering insurance plans to those institutions in order to avoid bearing the added cost of a separate, “free” service requirement.
Indeed, why does Obama think insurance premiums already have skyrocketed since Obamacare was enacted? His ignorance of basic economic principles is breathtaking.
It’s also clear that the University of Chicago Senior Lecturer (which the university considers to be a professor) in Constitutional Law has carefully ignored all constitutional questions related to the federal government ordering private enterprises to give away products or services. He’s simply, blithely, ordering private companies to provide, without compensation, those products he’s decided they should provide.
He concluded with this:
We live in a pluralistic society…. That doesn’t mean that we have to choose between individual liberty and basic fairness for all Americans.
But when government presumes to dictate the parameters of “basic fairness,” that is a direct attack on individual liberty.
Can we afford another four years of such ignorant arrogance?