Obama's dishonesty over requiring religious organizations to pay for abortion?
The president, facing a growing controversy fueled by angry religious organizations, said religious employers will not be required to offer free birth control to their employees as part of their insurance coverage.
Instead, that responsibility has been diverted to insurers, according to the administration’s compromise. The new requirement mandates that insurers provide workers at religious entities such as Catholic universities or hospitals with "contraceptive care free of charge."
“There is no such thing as ‘free of charge.’ It’s a complete ruse,” said Dr. Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at the Institute for Policy Innovation, which advocates for free markets.
“He thinks this stuff actually comes free,” Matthews added. “It doesn’t come free. People actually pay for it and there’s an administrative cost added to it.” . . .
The Washington Post's Marcus praises Obama's "fig leaf":
. . . . Women who work for religiously affiliated institutions that morally object to contraception will nonetheless have access to contraceptive coverage free of charge, just as women who work for other employers. They won’t have to sign up for any different coverage or pay any additional money.
The employers, for their part, won’t have to pay for the coverage, say they offer it or even direct employees to places where they can obtain it. The extra cost, and here is where the fig leaf comes in, will be born by the insurance companies themselves.
This is, of course, a dodge — a quite clever and positive one. Everyone gets to say that the religious institutions aren’t “paying for” contraception. But if covering contraception ends up costing them money, you can be sure those costs will be passed along, as costs always are, to customers.
The beauty of this dodge is that it is entirely possible, even likely, that adding the coverage will not raise rates. Easier, cheaper access to contraception means fewer pregnancies. Pregnancies — and the resulting babies — cost insurers far more than birth control pills. For example, according to the Guttmacher Institute, the federal government reported no increase in costs after Congress required coverage of contraceptives for federal employees in 1998. Think of it as immaculate contraceptive coverage.
Of course, fig leaves can leave gaps. One big gap in the administration’s plan involves how to treat religiously affiliated institutions that are self-insured. In those situations, the employer pays an insurance company to administer the plan but bears the cost of medical care directly. The administration’s approach does not necessarily solve the problem for such entities. . . .
Here is the problem. If this approach really saved money, insurance companies wouldn't be trying to charge for the service to begin with.
From the Catholic Bishops Conference
. . . The change was initially met with a reserved response. While many Democrats praised it and Republicans dismissed it, nonpartisan groups like the Conference of Catholic Bishops said they were reserving judgment.
But the Conference, after earlier calling the change a "first step in the right direction," issued a lengthy statement overnight blasting the plan. And they joined others in calling for legislation in Congress to reverse the policy, something Republicans said they were not abandoning despite Friday's announcement.
"We think there needs to be a legislative fix to protect our religious liberties," Bishop William Lori, a member of the Conference, told Fox News on Saturday. "I think that our First Amendment religious rights are far too precious to be entrusted to regulatory rules."
Lori and the rest of the Conference said they want to see the "mandate" rescinded altogether. They pointed out several lingering concerns. They said the change appears to make no consideration for religious insurers or self-insuring religious employers -- or for religious for-profit employers and secular nonprofit employers. . . .
"And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer's plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. . . .
Are women really this dumb to believe that they can get abortion coverage and contraception for free? Obama and the Democrats seem to think so (from The Hill newspaper):
"President Obama has set a standard that every woman has a right to contraception coverage at no additional cost," the DNC email says, "and he's done it in a way that respects religious freedoms."
An accompanying YouTube video, which includes excerpts from Obama's Friday press conference announcing the change, aims to highlight the sharp distinction between the president's compromise and a proposal – being drafted by Republicans – to repeal the birth-control mandate for employers.
"Who do you think should make decisions about contraception?" the ad asks. "You, or your employer?" . . .
Holy war over health care
UPDATE: Is Representative Kathy Hochul (NY, D - 26th District) just dense when she says that Obama solved the problem so that Catholics won't have to pay for abortion and contraception? The news reporter explaining things here must also be pretty dense.