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  • Public Comments on the Obama Administration’s "Accommodation": Rescind the Mandate

    “Rescind the mandate.” That is the demand of many public comments submitted by individuals and groups on the Obama Administration’s proposed “accommodation” to the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate.

    In the midst of widespread outcry over the Administration’s mandate that nearly all insurance providers must cover abortion drugs and contraception, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) tried to quell opposition by releasing an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” (ANPRM) on March 21. That document neither changes the coercive mandate finalized in law nor provides any workable or adequate solutions to the mandate’s trampling on religious liberty.

    HHS requested public comment on the ANPRM by last Tuesday, June 19. The Heritage Foundation joined many others in commenting on the notice. As Heritage visiting fellow Thomas Messner and senior research fellow Ed Haislmaier write:

    With the ANPRM, the government continues to unjustifiably burden the freedom of individuals and institutions.… The government should not promulgate regulations that trample religious or moral objection to paying for, providing, facilitating, or participating in health insurance plans that include or facilitate access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization services, contraceptives, and related education and counseling.

    The ANPRM neither replaces nor expands the narrow religious exemption in the final rule that effectively only applies to formal houses of worship. Many religious employers—such as Catholic hospitals, Baptist soup kitchens, and non-denominational schools—are left unprotected by the exemption simply because the step outside the four walls of a church to serve others.

    The Alliance Defense Fund, commenting on behalf of more than a dozen colleges and universities, noted that the accommodation “creates a federally-imposed religious caste system.” “The most privileged members of this federally dictated system are churches that are insularly focused by only serving and inculcating beliefs within their own faith,” writes ADF. “These few, because their attitude towards religion is deemed ideal by the federal bureaucracy, receive the largesse of a complete exemption from the Mandate by means of its ‘religious employer’ definition.”

    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls this narrow view of religion “patently wrong” while reiterating that “even Jesus would be deemed insufficiently ‘religious’ to qualify for the exemption because he fed and healed people of many different faiths.”

    Moreover, as Messner and Haislmaier point out, the notice doesn’t even consider protections for the conscience rights of other stakeholders, such as non-religious business and individuals.

    Even for the organizations that would qualify, the Administration’s potential proposed “accommodation” is actually nothing more than an “accounting gimmick.” As the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty explains, it would continue “a substantial burden on many organizations’ religious exercise.” The ANPRM suggests that insurance companies offer coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception—without charge—directly to employees of organizations with moral or religious objections to the mandated services. Yet those services come at a price, and there is no guarantee that funds from a religious employer’s premiums won’t be used to cover objectionable services.

    The Obama Administration’s trampling on religious liberty threatens the work of many Good Samaritan groups who are left to choose between violating their beliefs or dropping insurance coverage and paying hefty fines. As Messner and Haislmaier explain:

    The government’s misguided policies will have unfortunate consequences even apart from harms inflicted on religious and moral conscience.… Even if those individuals who lose health insurance find coverage elsewhere, and even if those institutions that drop insurance plans find the funds to pay their fines and keep their doors open, the mandate still creates a set of irrational and socially counterproductive costs. Money that will be spent on federal fines could be spent on educating students and serving the poor.

    As Heritage comments conclude, the only acceptable action for the Obama Administration is clear: rescind the mandate.

    The government should change course now by withdrawing the ANPRM and replacing it with a rule that would suspend the mandate as to these services until the government finds a way to fully protect the religious and moral conscience of all Americans.

    Whether in public comment on rulemakings, observance of the Fortnight for Freedom, nationwide rallies, or legal action over the anti-conscience mandate, Americans are loudly and clearly demanding greater protection of our “first freedom.”

    Posted in Featured, Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Public Comments on the Obama Administration’s "Accommodation": Rescind the Mandate

    1. KJinAZ says:

      This whole argument is null and void because the entire thing is unconstitutional…period!

    2. Kioga says:

      Obamacare crosses too many lines;, Church and State, individual freedoms , The Bill of Rights, social laws, moral boundary's, legal boundary's and creates an opening for tyranny in a democratic society which will lead to greater conflict. The whole 2000 plus pages needs to be scrapped and a good look should be taken at the problems within the healthcare system from drug manufactures to doctors to hospitals and everything in between, including making things in America that are necessary.
      America suffers from too much expense and profit taken when we were the world leader and designer of the industrial revolution. We have forgot our roots and how to work. We need to change these thing by taking back America.s drive and initiative along with our morality and independence on ourselves and get government less involved in running our lives, our families and the need for both parents to work in order to make ends meet while we pay through the nose for these profit monopolies.
      If it is anything the government needs to do, it's open the doors to free enterprise, reduce government size and restrictions on businesses, that should help solve another problem of unemployment.
      By the way, I haven't heard much squeaking from the Muslims on paying for abortions, what'ss the deal?

      • Jill says:

        I heard that the Muslim religion doesn't that life begins at conception. So it's not a baby until it survives birth and sometimes doctors trying to interfere with live birth.

    3. Kioga says:

      Obamacare crosses too many lines between Church and State, Liberty and tyranny, individual rights and oppression, and the base line Of the Bill of Rights. The whole Bill needs to be scrapped and instead of trying to enforce 2000 plus pages that is filled with loopholes and contradictions to the Constitution'
      Instead, we need to get back to being,acting, and thinking as Americans by looking not at the effects because we can't change them now, but at the problems. The problems include profit seekers and costs in the healthcare system we have now. Once we were the pioneer and creator of the industrial revolution and as Americans we've lost site and awareness of our capabilities, because we've allowed the Feds to take too much control of our lives, our families, our schools and forced us to be two paycheck providers in our families just to make ends meet and feed the profit beast involved in everything we purchase.
      We're out of work now because American business has abandon us for too much union demands, cheaper help and a better invironment to work in outside of America's shores. Healthcare is doing similar things from drug manufacture's profit seekers, to specialized healthcare equipment, and even Doctor's outrageous pricing for visits and exams to cover insurance and legal fees in case of a mistake/malpractice. We're burying ourselves in government control, lawsuits and legal hassles, and a stock market that sets the tone for success in investing in something you don't have to own if you sell it for a profit quickly. I say let's get back to our American roots and whip this thing by reducing government control and size, get some regulation on how business is handled at the stock market level, bring manufacturing back to American soil or don't buy their stocks unless they are , and use the initiative and drive that we once had to start rebuilding our moral, spiritual' and sense of purpose that are imbedded in our culture and character. Don't vote anyone in that doesn't hold to the values you set for yourselves and we will see progress and quicker problem solving.

    4. Thom Huntley says:

      The author of this article seems to ignore the effect allowing ANY group or individual, religious or otherwise, to deny a man or woman access to birth control could have. Whether one likes it or not, many couples are in sexually active relationships and birth control is a healthy part of that. Many of these couples do not have the means to care for a child. The problem with allowing people to deny access to contraception solely based on conscious is that it does just that, it allows one individual the right to deny a couple access to birth control because he does not approve. Yet it is that couple's right to have access to birth control. The position of the author seems to be that religious freedom means that you can deny others their rights if having those rights is against their religion. At the very least, the author prioritizes the person providing birth control's right to deny its access over the person in need of birth control's right to have it.

      • Sandy Caruso says:

        @ Thom Huntley ….Folks in sexually active relationship CHOOSE to do exactly that. It's not the problem or the business of the rest of the American people what transpires in those bedrooms. However, with that being said it's not the responsibility of the American people to provide birth control for those people. Birth control is NOT a RIGHT just like sexual relations between two consenting adults. It is a choice. And fortunately or unfortunately there are consequeces that come from making a choice to be sexual active. If short on money cut out the beer, the designer coffee or soda for crying out loud. BIrth control pills and propholactics are cheap compared to raising a baby. There's your RIGHT to choose.

        • Brian says:

          Very well said. Being RESPONSIBLE and ACCOUNTABLE is not even considered and totally lost to those who support ObamaCare which is simply an enabling device for those who think they are entitled.

      • Dave says:

        Birth control is Not a right, any more than a big screen TV. You want it, you Pay for it.

    5. blained13 says:

      The Supreme Court hopefully will do it for them, maybe along with the whole law. We need changes in how health care and health insurance is run in this country but handing so much power to the Federal Government is a terrible idea.

    6. Jill says:

      There are plenty of people who will supply the abortions, the birth control, the sterilizations, so people who want those will not be denied. It is about forcing someone who is morally against these things to provide these things. They aren't making these things inaccessible. They juts don't want to be the one providing what they find to be immoral.

    7. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      These comment periods are a joke. Congress requires bureaucrats to consider public comments prior to issuing rules, but does the public's opinion really change the minds of these bureaucrats? If the comments support what they plan to do anyway, they will cite it; if not, they will ignore it. Congress gives way too much latitude to bureaucracies and rule-makers. Only Congress should be making rules because only they are held to account every 2-6 years by the voters; civil servants are not.

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