Couple of Articles that outline the contraception and changes on religious institutions

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) – We present, in its entirety, the first response of the United States Bishop concerning the alleged "compromise" of the Obama Administration to somehow "fix"  its unjust and unconstitutional edict. It is taken from the Bishops web site and can be found here.

We ask our readers to pray for the our Bishops and stand in solidarity with them. They have shown tremendous courage. We know they will continue to do so going forward. We expect they will speak further as the alleged "compromise" – and its implications – are fully studied.We will continue to follow this vital matter closely.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have issued the following statement:

The Catholic bishops have long supported access to life-affirming healthcare for all, and the conscience rights of everyone involved in the complex process of providing that healthcare. That is why we raised two serious objections to the "preventive services" regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011.

First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans – nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen-to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion. All the other mandated "preventive services" prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether.

Second, we explained that the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such "services" immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage.

We therefore urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders-not just the extremely small subset of "religious employers" that HHS proposed to exempt initially.

Today, the President has done two things.

First, he has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.

Second, the President has announced some changes in how that mandate will be administered, which is still unclear in its details. As far as we can tell at this point, the change appears to have the following basic contours:

It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.

It would allow non-profit, religious employers to declare that they do not offer such coverage. But the employee and insurer may separately agree to add that coverage. The employee would not have to pay any additional amount to obtain this coverage, and the coverage would be provided as a part of the employer’s policy, not as a separate rider.

Finally, we are told that the one-year extension on the effective date (from August 1, 2012 to August 1, 2013) is available to any non-profit religious employer who desires it, without any government application or approval process.

These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders-for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals-is unacceptable and must be corrected.


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. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral. We will, of course, continue to press for the greatest conscience protection we can secure from the Executive Branch.

But stepping away from the particulars, we note that today’s proposal continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions, and to threaten government coercion of religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions.

In a nation dedicated to religious liberty as its first and founding principle, we should not be limited to negotiating within these parameters. The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.

We will therefore continue-with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency-our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government. For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all.




By ,

President Barack Obama has just announced his "compromise" on the contraceptive mandate that requires religious organizations to provide insurance that offers free contraception to all of their female workers.

As I predicted this morning (see "The Contraception Mandate: A Defining Moment"), the President had no intention of meeting his opponents part way. His remarks made it plain that, despite the administration’s attempts to portray the new version of the mandate as addressing the concerns of, among others, the nation’s Catholic bishops, President Obama regards the new version as equal in its essentials to the old version.


President Obama is correct: No substantive change has been made. The new version is simply an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. As administration officials told the New York Times this morning, the compromise was designed to "shore up support among wavering Democrats, who have also expressed doubt about the rule, along with more liberal religious organizations and charities, who oppose the rule but not as vehemently as the Catholic leadership."

The new version of the contraceptive mandate is essentially a shell game. As the White House Fact Sheet on Women’s Preventive Services and Religious Institutions summarizes the changes:

  • Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception.
  • Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception.
  • Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers’ insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception.
  • Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.

The problem is obvious: Insurance companies provide nothing "free of charge." To do so would decrease their profits, and they have no desire to do so. More importantly, the new version of the mandate does not require them to do so.

Let me say that again: The new version of the mandate does not require insurance companies to eat the costs of providing contraceptives "free of charge."

So how will insurance companies make up the money they spend on providing contraceptives to women who are employed by religious institutions?

By raising premiums.

Who pays the premiums?

The religious institutions who object to providing contraceptives to their employees.

In a White House conference call this morning before the President’s announcement, administration officials tried to wave away this obvious objection to the new version of the mandate. Insurance companies, they argued, would voluntarily eat the costs because they will come out ahead, since bringing a pregnancy to term costs an insurance company more than preventing a pregnancy.

But that’s not the way that the insurance industry works. The insurance industry covers the expected costs of expected pregnancies through higher premiums on those cohorts of women who are in their childbearing years. When the number of expected pregnancies for a particular cohort increases, they increase insurance premiums.

The insurance companies will cover the cost of the new version of the contraceptive mandate in the exact same way.

And here’s the kicker: That’s exactly what the insurance companies would have done under the original version of the mandate.



All that has changed is how the mandate is presented to the public. If the new version of the mandate stands, Catholic hospitals and charities will still be required to pay for contraception for their employees. The insurance companies, the Obama administration, and the administration’s supporters will simply pretend that they are not doing so.

When is a compromise not a compromise? When it changes nothing.

I would not be surprised to learn that the administration had planned this all along: Announce the contraceptive mandate to celebrate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, expecting the Catholic Church and other religious organizations to oppose it; weather the storm for a few weeks; then announce the "new" version of the mandate to rounds of applause from "wavering Democrats" and "more liberal religious organizations and charities."

It’s a smart public-relations move. It will make it much harder for religious leaders to explain to the public why the new mandate is no different from the old mandate. And because of that, it may even have bought President Obama a second term in the White House.

What it did not do, however, is address the very real attack on religious freedom that the contraceptive mandate represents. Nor did it provide any moral justification for Catholics to support this administration and this President.

Catholics and all others concerned with the free exercise of religion have to ask themselves this: If this is how Barack Obama treats religious freedom when he is running for reelection, what will he feel he can do once he has won a second term?




By Tom Blumer



Yesterday’s announcement by President Obama (headlined at the White House’s website as "Remarks by the President on Preventive Care") of planned revisions to an ObamaCare-driven rule which, in the President’s words, "if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles."

Showing just how out of touch the establishment press is with reality, an editorial this morning in the Wall Street Journal cutely titled "Immaculate Contraception" points out something most, including the Associated Press, have missed — that in a large number of cases involving many thousands of employees, there is no "insurance company" there to directly pay for these services:

One major problem will be how the rule applies to large organizations that self-insure. Arrangements in which an employer pays for care directly and uses insurers to manage benefits and process claims (not to take on insurance risk) account for the majority of the private market. In these cases there isn’t even a free lunch to pretend exists



The only insurance involved in self-insurance situations is "stop-loss" coverage which kicks in at very high levels (often $100,000 or more) on particularly costly individual claims (e.g., heart attacks, cancer, etc.). If this insurance weren’t available, such claims could financially cripple or bankrupt self-insured enterprises.

Many stop-loss carriers don’t have departments or affiliates which manage routine claims, and thus would not even have the capability of administering "free" contraceptive coverage. So who would? Maybe we can see if the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny might want to step up. (/sarc)

It turns out that the very reason many religiously-affiliated entities self-insure is that some states have imposed what ObamaCare wants impose nationally. They are already forcing employers with health insurance plans to cover contraception (a term whose use is in fact misleading, as coverage typically includes forms of "birth control," which should also be known as "birth prevention," which induce abortion shortly after fertilization occurs, i.e., they aren’t forms of "contraception," they eliminate preborn babies after conception).

In today’s New York Times, Joseph Berger and Thomas Kaplan transparently attempt to show that the President’s announcement yesterday was really no big deal because of these already-existing state mandates. But they note at several points that Catholic institutions have self-insured to avoid the state-sponsored coercion:

Some New York Catholic institutions — including the Archdiocese of New York, led by Archbishop Dolan, and the Diocese of Brooklyn — chose to self-insure rather than pay for contraception after New York State adopted a requirement in 2002 that any insurance policy with a prescription drug benefit provide coverage for birth control.

… One of the most contentious laws was approved in California in 1999; the measure effectively provided an exemption to churches but not to religiously affiliated hospitals, universities or social service organizations. Catholic Charities of Sacramento unsuccessfully challenged the law in court.

“It was pretty much a useless exemption, because the large employers are not churches,” said Carol Hogan, a spokeswoman for the California Catholic Conference. She said many large Catholic institutions in California, like hospitals, have since elected to sidestep the law by insuring themselves.

“The bishops knew going forward that that was their backup plan,” Ms. Hogan said. “That didn’t negate the fact that it was a violation of religious liberty.”

In New Jersey, which enacted a requirement on contraceptives in 2006, a number of religiously affiliated hospitals have also opted for self-insurance.

Still totally unaddressed: Religious believers who happen to be small, private-sector employers. Why will they being forced (and in some states, why are they already being forced) to cover something which they believe is morally repugnant and sinful? I’m sorry, being forced to sell out your beliefs should not be a price you have to pay for going into business and taking on employees. It may be a very minor factor in the grand scheme, but add it to the list of reasons why certain entrepreneurs with great ideas might decide not to expand beyond their core founder group, or why they refuse to take on employees above the levels where related legislative exemptions no longer apply. As with other coercion of employers in so many other areas, that’s not good for economy.

Demonstrating how mostly clueless the national press is on the relevance of self-insurance:

  • A search at the Associated Press’s national site on "contraception self-insurance" (not in quotes) returned nothing relating to yesterday’s presidential announcement.
  • An AP national site search on "contraception self-insure" (not in quotes) returned one item, a quote from Mat Staver at Liberty University raising the self-insurance question. Even after Staver dropped it in their laps, nobody at the self-described Essential Global News Network has seen that the self-insurance issue might be important.
  • Google News searches for the past 24 hours on "contraception self insurance" and "contraception self-insure" (each not in quotes) done at 9:30 a.m. returned four and 47 results, respectively. There are perhaps a half-dozen to ten items which might be seen as national establishment press outlets.

The searches revealed that U.S. bishops have officially weighed in.