The editorial board of the Washington Post calls the compromise President Obama announced Friday on the HHS mandate regarding contraception “an elegant way out of [the administration's] contraceptive problem.”
Since the compromise is so elegant, I am going to let myself off the hook for initially being hoodwinked. I had earlier suggested that the president’s new plan upholds the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. But on further study, the compromise looks like nothing more than a slick accounting trick. It's not hard to see through this fig leaf.
Basically, as far as one I tell at this point, what the president did was say that faith-based organizations won’t have to pay for insurance policies that violate their consciences, but then the insurers will tack on these procedures at no extra cost to the faith-based employer. So you get to violate your consciences for free!
There is some language about the insurance companies picking up the tab for these procedures and “reaching out” to employees at faith-based organizations. But this is an accounting trick. Insurance for the objectionable procedures is included on the policies for which the faith-based organizations pay.
Yuval Levin explains on National Review Online:
Whatever you think of the accounting trick at the heart of the rule—whether it just means the cost of the contraceptive and abortifacient benefit would be passed back to religious employers in the form of higher premiums or would be eaten by the insurers as just another price to pay for the captive population handed to them by Obamacare—the basic structure of the rule means that by contracting with an insurer to provide health coverage to their employees, religious employers would be making contraceptive and abortifacient coverage available to those employees.
That’s exactly what they were opposed to in the original rule. So the “accounting gimmick” question isn’t even essential to the problem. The only difference today’s new twist makes is that now those religious employers would either also be compelling another actor—the insurer—to pay for the benefit more directly (and so compelling that other actor to act immorally too, as the religious employers see it), or they would be effectively laundering the money they use to pay for the benefit. Either one would be even worse than what was envisioned by the original rule.
John McCormack of the Weekly Standard calls the compromise “beyond cynical.” But this is just the beginning, if Obamacare is allowed to stand:
[N]ow is not the time to go easy on Obamacare. It’s important to remember that the law was structured so that its most popular elements are introduced first. The current mandate was specifically designed by the Obama administration to be a campaign issue—it takes effect August 2012, just three months before the election.
Now is the time to warn the country that Obamacare is about to get much worse. When its health care exchanges are up and running in 2014, Obamacare will fund taxpayer-subsidized abortions. If the law stands, millions of Americans will lose their employer-provided health insurance and be dumped into the government-regulated health care exchanges. Whether Obamacare is putting the government between you and your God or putting government between you and your doctor, it is an unjust law. And that’s to say nothing of the fact it will rapidly worsen our nation’s engulfing debt crisis.