THE OBAMACARE ASSAULT ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
On New Year’s eve, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor stayed the contraceptive and abortion coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act, sparing the Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged from that legal imposition. Little Sisters, Hobby Lobby, and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. are among many companies having officers, directors, and employees who harbor religious scruples against birth control and abortion. The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an emergency stay of the same Obamacareprovision for the benefit of Catholic organization plaintiffs, including the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and Catholic University.
In 2013, facing tremendous opposition from religious groups, the Obama Administration offered an “administrative fix” to the law’s adverse effect on religious organizations that oppose birth control. Like its more recent promise to enable 5 million Americans who lost their individual insurance plans to reapply for their old policies, the “fix” fails to provide relief beyond lip service.
The Administration’s religious liberty fix simply changed who had to satisfy the law’s mandatory birth control requirement from religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and social services to those institution’s outside insurance administrators. In this way, religious institutions must still authorize and condone use of proxies to provide the very same contraceptive and abortion services they oppose. Failure to comply results in significant fines.
For profit institutions, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, are not even allowed the same “fix” offered by the Obama Administration to religiously affiliated hospitals, universities, and social services organizations. They are required to fund contraceptive and abortion services regardless of their religious preferences.
At root, these challenges reveal the penultimate problem with Obamacare. It denies individual freedom of choice, freedom of contract, and independent professional judgment in favor of government mandates. Those mandates dictate every aspect of care through insurance proxies that implement choices made by the White House as to what coverages will be and what care is considered appropriate. Physicians in this system become mere bureaucrats who must satisfy insurers that in turn must follow the dictates of the Department of Health and Human Services that in turn must satisfy the dictates of the White House. In this system, you pay for what the government mandates, not what you desire. Individual freedom is replaced with government control.
While under Obamacare the government determines what health care offerings are recompensable, what may be charged for them, and whether you may avail yourself of them in any particular case, Obamacare leaves the costs for supporting this market dislocation to the market. The effect is to raise insurance premiums and deductibles substantially.
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Many will learn this year that insurance through the exchanges may cost them as much as $10,000 or more a year but they will have deductibles of $5,000 or more, consequently in all but the most dire of circumstances they will be paying out of pocket for their health care coverage. They are, thus, “insured” in name only, left entirely with the same cost burden as if they were uninsured in all but catastrophic cases (but even in those cases not all necessary services are covered). Finally, one of the rudest awakenings those who sign up for the exchanges will experience is the reality that many of the nation’s leading hospitals and physicians will not take insurance from the exchanges.
Obamacare’s “administrative fix” for religious liberty, like the “administrative fix” for those 5 million who have lost their pre-existing individual insurance, is an apparition. Indeed, those fixes are but a metaphor for the entire system which in Orwellian fashion leaves those “insured” largely uninsured while it proceeds to destroy what remains of a functioning market in medical care.
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