The Supreme Court’s term may be over, but the debate certainly isn’t. Four days after hanging up their robes for the summer, the justices made another splash on the HHS mandate — this time, taking a bite out of the President’s outrageous “compromise.”
Last year, when the backlash over the mandate was too much for the White House to handle, the President announced an “accommodation,” for religious groups — which, it turns out, only accommodates his agenda of forcing people to cover pills and procedures they morally object to.
Essentially, the Obama administration suggested that religious groups still pay for the “health care” they oppose, but use a third-party to do so. Unfortunately, faith-based groups pointed out, the cost-shifting doesn’t change anything.
There’s a slight adjustment in how the accounting is done for the drugs or services that violate people’s consciences — but, in the end, the President’s “compromise” is just a bookkeeping gimmick that hides the coverage in the plan.
It’s even more ridiculous when you consider that self-insured nonprofits are their own insurance companies — so even a flimsy buffer like the President’s wouldn’t protect them. As FRC has pointed out, it’s a political fig leaf that does nothing to alter the President’s underlying discrimination against religious organizations.
But unfortunately, that fig leaf is what’s holding the feet of faith-based charities, colleges, and hospitals to the mandate’s fire. More than four dozen lawsuits are winding their way through the courts — including a challenge from Illinois’s Wheaton College, a Christian school near Chicago.
On Thursday, the justices took the sting out of the mandate for Wheaton, at least temporarily, until the case makes its way to the Court. By a 6-3 vote, the majority issued an emergency injunction in favor of the college — a decision that put the second phase of the mandate fight in the spotlight.
While the injunction doesn’t mean that the justices would necessarily strike the mandate down for religious nonprofits, it does suggest that they see through the administration’s money-shuffling sham. “Anything that forces unwilling religious believers to be part of the system is not going to pass the test,” said Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
In the meantime, faith-based groups have some company in the mandate’s disgruntled camp. This non-existent firewall isn’t just offensive — it’s expensive. As one expert explains, “There was no budget money set aside for this. There’s certainly no money that is part of the Affordable Care Act appropriations. I can see why the third-party administrators would be concerned.”
The Washington Post puts it this way: “It’s a complex solution that hasn’t worked in the real world, said the third-party administrators… providing the birth-control benefit, because the government hasn’t figured out how to pay them back.”
In other words, the President’s “solution” is putting these go-betweens on the hook for pills and procedures that even the government isn’t prepared to cover.
Since the accounting gimmick was introduced, none of U.S.’s 300 TPAs (third-parties) has “found an insurer willing to join with it.” And no wonder! The costs, Alex Wayne points out, could run “in the millions of dollars.”
Meanwhile, women aren’t exactly suffering from a lack of contraception and abortifacients. A new report just released found that the rate of insured women who got free birth control soared to 56% last year from just 14% in 2012. So if there is a “war on women,” it’s on women with religious beliefs — who seem to be the only ones hurting under the law.