What the Obama Administrations Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has done is an attack, which is why Catholics need to be well-informed about what is going on so that they can tell their neighbors about it. So, here are the facts.
When Obamacare passed, it gave the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, the power to require that insurance companies cover certain procedures. This was so that greater coverage could be guaranteed to more Americans, which was the stated goal of Obamacare. Thus, HHS creates certain rules which health insurers have to follow.
In August of last year, HHS announced a rule that requires health insurance companies to provide “preventive services for women” including sterilization procedures and contraception. This would cover such controversial drugs like Ella that are like the emergency contraception drug RU-486 or the “morning after pill.” It would also cover tubal ligations.
Furthermore, the HHS rule requires that the health insurance company may not allow for a co-pay. It cannot cost the patient a dime. This means that these procedures and drugs will be completely free and therefore used more widely. As a result, the health insurance company will recoup the cost of covering contraception and sterilization procedures by raising premiums.
The result? Employers who provide health insurance coverage to their employees and pay these premiums will therefore be paying for sterilization and contraception… oh and abortion because in fact hormone-based contraceptives actually keep fertilized eggs from implanting in the lining of the uterine wall. Thus, the little, tiny human being is effectively aborted.
What’s the medical benefit here? Well, HHS gives the argument the Left has always used regarding contraception, namely that it will result in fewer unwanted pregnancies thus more stable marriages, lower crime, greater income, a lower abortion rate, etc. The truth, of course, is that contraception and now a federal mandate for free contraception for all, will actually mean more risky behavior, which will result in more unwanted pregnancies which raises the abortion rate as study after study has found.
All of this is besides the fact that hormone-based contraceptives are listed by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen, and that studies have found close links between hormone-based contraceptives and increases in breast and cervical cancers. Oh well, say HHS, win some you lose some.
What if I’m a Catholic business owner and I object to paying for my employee’s contraception? Tough. There is really nothing you can do. There is one glimmer of a hope, but it is narrow. See below.
What if the employer is the Catholic Church which teaches against contraception and sterilization? While there is an exemption for employers that are religious institutions, this exemption is ridiculously narrow. The religious institution must have as its purpose the inculcation or the teaching of its religion as its main and almost exclusive activity. The institution must also hire people of its own faith. Therefore most Catholic schools and hospitals would not qualify. Catholic schools teach the faith, but they also teach math, science, English and other subjects. Also, they educate people of many faiths. Catholic hospitals don’t teach the faith primarily. They just heal people…you know… sick people… regardless of faith. Finally, more often than not, several of the staff of Catholic schools and hospitals are not Catholic, a fact which also keeps them from being counted for the exemption.
Certainly there is some sort of grandfathering provision here isn’t there? Well, some have reported that HHS will allow a kind of grandfathering rule so that if you are happy with the plan you have as an employer you can keep it and ignore this rule. However, you can’t change the plan significantly.
What does “significantly” mean? That’s the big question, and no one is at this point willing to trust the Obama administration’s assurances. Change one comma, and that could be considered “significant” by someone.
Okay, okay but isn’t this rule really just about helping people? That’s a nice thought, but let’s keep in mind always that pregnancy is not a disease. In fact, the odd thing in all of this is that women who suffer from infertility, which is a physical disorder, do not get any special coverage here. If this were really about helping people and women in particular, then what about the millions of women who suffer from infertility?
When does all of this take effect? Well that was the news from last Friday. The HHS announcement in August was just to say this rule was under review and that they were taking feedback. Fully 434 Catholic leaders voiced their protest to the rule, including Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame. Sr. Carol Keehan who had defended Obamacare against the express wishes of the USCCB, also came out against it. On January 20th, HHS announced that they would not change their rule. Case closed.
The sad, twisted and sickening thing here is that HHS decided they would postpone the rule going into effect until January of 2013…thats right… after the election. Hope and Change? Typical politics from a poisoned ideology is more likely.
The fact is that this rule by the HHS is flat out wrong. It is a violation of the rights of conscience which every American ought to stand up and defend. So arm yourselves with the facts, and get out there and start telling your neighbors. Go here to the USCCB site in order to see what you can do, and for more details.