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Second front attacks ‘Obamacare’

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

As President Barack Obama's historic health care reform inches toward its final exam before the Supreme Court next month, a second front led by leaders of the Catholic Church has been growing against the Affordable Care Act.

Unlike the legal challenge by 26 states to the act's "individual mandate" that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance beginning in 2014, the bishops are actually demanding expansion of an accommodation in the act called the "refusal clause" that exempts them from including contraceptives and family planning services in their employee health insurance plans.

In December, Bishop Robert Lynch, leader of nearly a half-million Tampa Bay Catholics, vowed that unless the legislation is changed, his diocese will no longer provide health insurance to its 2,300 employees, and instead would pay employees cash to seek out their own health coverage, which is allowed under the law. The diocese's existing health plans do not cover contraceptives, sterilization or drugs such as Viagra.

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would effectively allow any employer with religious objections to avoid covering contraception in its health insurance plan.

"From a practical standpoint, this will force Catholic organizations to make an unacceptable choice: ignore a major tenet of their faith or not provide any insurance to their employees and be punished with a federal fine for violating 'Obamacare's' mandate on employers," Rubio wrote in an op-ed piece in the New York Post last Friday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney defended the refusal clause, noting that 28 states currently require insurers to cover the cost of contraceptives, and that requirements in California, New York and North Carolina are identical to those in the act. Insurance laws in Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin have no exemptions for religious institutions, Carney added.

Political agendas aside, this second front has rekindled two ongoing cultural debates: the separation of church and state, and a woman's right to manage her own body.

What do you think? Should employers be allowed to opt out of covering contraceptives in their health plans on religious grounds?

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C Pryde
March 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Actually, the primary method of halting ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids is by prescribing low dose contraceptives. 75%- that's not a typo- of women get them, and many need additional treatment. Another 15% of women with fibroids must get treated. So, yes there's a darn good reason to have them available that has nothing to do with pregnancy. I was on them for years, after the doctor found 12 cm cyst.

James Salmons
March 12, 2012 at 11:12 am

While many of the discussions about this issue are important, the most important issue is going by almost without notice. The government should not be requiring ANY specific coverage in insurance policies.

When policies are offered as wanted by the public as determined by the open market, insurance companies offer a wider variety of options and prices are lowest. People choose the coverage that best meets their needs.

When ANYTHING is required by the government to be in every policy then all policies are higher. This hurts lower income people the most.

To put it is terms of some of the current discussions, why should you and I pay higher insurance premiums (or taxes to support the public plans if that is what we have) so that Warren Buffet and his wife can have "free" contraceptives?

March 12, 2012 at 4:30 am

There are two reasons we have sex: procreation and recreation. Procreation obviously requires no contracption. If it's recreation, it's obviously a choice NOT a health condition.

Forcing religious institutions to provide coverage for something they clearly believe is wrong is just, well, WRONG.

Forcing insurance companies to foot the bill means simply that the costs will be passed on to every single consumer in the country. In other words, another big entitlement program we the tax-payer must pay for. Moreover, since when is it "ok" for the president to tell companies what services they will and will not provide?

This mandate is wrong on so many levels it's hard to believe we are actually having to deal with it.

March 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Donald I've been in health care for 30 years and you are exactly right. when third parties start payng for health care, the patient does not care what the cost is because he/she is not paying. Prescriptions were cheap until drug benefits were added to insurance plans. then they went through the roof.
Medicare Part D was Republicans Gift to Big PhArma. Medicare Part C, advantage plans, where private insurers contract with Medicare to provide benefits at a cost to taxpayers 17% higher than Medicare, was Repiblicans' gift to Big Insurance. Republicans did contribute to this mess in a major way by funneIing taxpayers money to private companies, even as they all knew entitlements would eventually bankrupt us.
Democrats solution was a government takeover and they were OH so crafty in fooling the public. They initially funnel taxpayer money to private insurance but premiums will skyrocket under the weight of the mandates, no one will be able to afford private insurance at $30 k per year, and eventually everyone will be forced into government HMOs called ACOs being formed now. This was the plan all along. read the bill. Democrats front loaded goodies for 2012 talking points, made the bill 2700 pages so no one would read it, including many of the Democrats who voted for it. The massive tax increases and takeover of health care ,phasing out private insurance as we know it, will begin in earnest next year. After the election of course.

Donald Berrian
March 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

Our healthcare costs would be a lot lower if our insurance worked like our car insurance and only paid for large costs. The inclusion of routine expenses like birth control is a sellout to the healthcare lobby. It hides the prices of routine care, eliminates competition, and causes prices to rise. Americans pay twice as much for everything from MRI's to pills because we allow the prices to be hidden.

This is just another example of "crony capitalism". The Catholic church is not the only one whose rights are being violated here. The government is not entitled to tell us how to spend our own money!

March 08, 2012 at 9:48 pm

What was wrong with the status quo? Another step by the Federal Government to take power away from the states. Everybody better wake up, better get your family, friends and neighbors onboard to oust Obama come November or things will go from bad to worse very fast.

March 08, 2012 at 10:50 am

Rubbers are a right of law. Obama has nothing better to do???

March 07, 2012 at 11:52 pm

The idea that some Washington burecrat should dictate that every insurance policy must include coverage for that burecrats list of "wonderful mandates" is insane. I want the government out of the business of telling employers what to spend their money on. No rational person would want the goverment making even the "non-controversial decisions but to insist on mandating practices and procedures that are offensive to employers for religious or any other reasons goes beyond stupid.
An employer does not have to supply health care but if he does then it must be a policy which covers a hundered politically correct items? Who is that supposed to benefit. The workers who get paid less because they get an overpriced "insurance with services and paperwork for items most of them don't need" employers who are not allowed to fit their benefits to their employees and the employers needs?

karen wills
March 07, 2012 at 11:33 pm

I'm trying

March 07, 2012 at 7:32 pm

If you are single and don't want a baby don't have SEX! If you are married and don't want a baby you can go to Walmart and buy a box of condoms cheap! Contraceptives are not a right if you want to have them covered in your health insurance than don't go to work for an organization that doesn't cover them. If Walmart doesn't have a product that will work for you there is your local health dept. and I am sure a planned parenthood will be more than happy to accommodate your needs!