The HHS Mandate: Six MORE Things To Know

 Last week, the USCCBlog posted Six Things You Should Know About the HHS MandateFollowing the talk last week about an "accomodation" to the mandate based on a conscience clause, USCCBlog has now posted:

Six More Things Everyone Should Know About the HHS Mandate

1. The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is. Friday evening, after a day of touting meaningful changes in the mandate, HHS issued a regulation finalizing the rule first issued in August 2011, “without change.” So religious employers dedicated to serving people of other faiths are still not exempt as “religious employers.” Indeed, the rule describes them as “non-exempt.”

2. The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt “religious employers” will be forced to cover sterilization. In its August 2011 comments, USCCB warned that the narrow “religious employer” exemption appeared to provide no relief from the sterilization mandate—only the contraception mandate—and specifically sought clarification. (We also noted that a sterilization mandate exists in only one state, Vermont.) HHS provided no clarification, so the risk remains under the unchanged final rule.

3. The new “accommodation” is not a current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability. Also on Friday evening, HHS issued regulations describing the intention to develop more regulations that would apply the same mandate differently to “non-exempt, non-profit religious organizations”—the charities, schools, and hospitals that are still left out of the “religious employer” exemption. These policies will be developed over a one-year delay in enforcement, so if they turn out badly, their impact will not be felt until August 2013, well after the election.

4. Even if the promises of “accommodation” are fulfilled entirely, religious charities, schools, and hospitals will still be forced to violate their beliefs. If an employee of these second-class-citizen religious institutions wants coverage of contraception or sterilization, the objecting employer is still forced to pay for it as a part of the employer’s insurance plan. There can be no additional cost to that employee, and the coverage is not a separate policy. By process of elimination, the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.

5. The “accommodation” does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals. In its August 2011 comments, and many times since, USCCB identified all the stakeholders in the process whose religious freedom is threatened—all employers, insurers, and individuals, not just religious employers. Friday’s actions emphasize that all insurers, including self-insurers, must provide the coverage to any employee who wants it. In turn, all individuals who pay premiums have no escape from subsidizing that coverage. And only employers that are both non-profit and religious may qualify for the “accommodation.”

6. Beware of claims, especially by partisans, that the bishops are partisan. The bishops and their staff read regulations before evaluating them. The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year—others did. Bishops form their positions based on principles—here, religious liberty for all, and the life and dignity of every human person—not polls, personalities, or political parties. Bishops are duty bound to proclaim these principles, in and out of season.

Here are USCCB's first "six things" on the HHS mandate.

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  1. Beware of claims, especially by bishops, that they are not partisan. Bishops did pick this fight in an election year. That's no coincidence. This is about politics.

    It may also be political cover for the bishops to drop health insurance coverage for all of their employees. Think of how much money that would save. Plus they get to justify their position by claiming the moral high ground. They will discontinue health coverage to protect religious liberty.

    Remember how Catholic Charities got out of the adoption business because they were being forced to obey the law regarding who was eligible to adopt?

  2. Here's a link to an article worth reading on this topic that's being picked up in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, USA today and others:


  3. Fr. Fleming,
    You link to the blog, A Sister of St. Joseph on your sidebar. I visited the site and found the statement of the LCWR there, proclaiming that this organization is grateful to Obama for his alleged compromise and calling for full implementation of the healthcare mandate. I know you attempt to distance yourself from those blogs you recommend by a disclaimer. But with such a rash statement, shouldn't you reconsider directing your readers to the Sisters of St. Joseph? The sisters are clearly not in unity with the bishops. Why direct traffic their way? Doesn't the cost (promoting disunity and dissent) outweigh any possible benefit?

    I assume, of course, that you support the bishops' statement, since you have posted it in full.


  4. I do, indeed, support the bishops' statement which, as you've noted, is posted on my page.

    You're correct that the LCWR (and other individuals and groups) were rash in responding positively to the alleged "accommodation."

    My most recent post from the USCCBlog indicates clearly that no accommodation has in fact been made.

    I refer readers to the item on my sidebar titled, "Keep in Mind."

  5. I am curious as to what role sensus fidelium plays in this? 98% would suggest a sensus fidelium that is plainly at odds with the bishops' position. Anyone care to tackle this from that perspective?


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