Wednesday, August 3, 2011

But You Said I Could Keep It: Obamacare’s Erosion of Liberty Continues

But what a fool believes, he sees.
No wise man has the power to reason away.
What seems to be is always better than nothing.
            —Doobie Brothers, What a Fool Believes

Don’t look now, but under cover of the debt ceiling smoke screen, the Orcs charged with implementing Obamacare—hey, if I’m going to be a Hobbit—have been on the march.  This, despite the fact that at present, a federal court has ruled the program unconstitutional; but since when has the Constitution mattered?

Recall the mantra we heard time and again throughout the lecture on health insurance “reform” that “if you like your coverage, you’ll be able to keep it.”  Of course, those of us who actually read the bill knew that was an outright lie, but sadly even when I’ve quoted the actual text explicitly requiring changes, I’ve heard myopic Liberals respond that they “just don’t believe that will happen.”  They’re so blinded by the glow of Obama’s aura that they can’t bring themselves to see—or admit—reality.

Well, the proof is always in the pudding, isn’t it?

As most of Congress patted itself on the back while the markets gave us a swift kick in our collective ass—thank you, sir, may I have another?—the Department of Health and Human Services released new guidelines on the implementation of the Obamacare mandate requiring plans without “grandfather status” to cover certain preventative care benefits on a no cost-sharing basis.  That is, your provider can’t charge you a co-pay or co-insurance when you go in for such a service.  Under the original guidelines, this applied to things such as mammography for women of a certain age, PSA screening for men of a certain age, aspirin for people with potential heart disease, and immunizations for children.  Nothing particularly controversial there, but God love ‘em they just can’t help themselves.

With the new guidelines released this week, HHS will, under Obamacare, require employer-sponsored health plans to cover prescription contraceptives on a zero-cost—i.e., no co-pay—basis.  This mandate will apply to all contraceptives approved by the FDA, including the Pill, IUDs, the so-called “morning after” early abortion pill, and newer forms of long-acting implantable hormone contraceptives.  Certainly, these items are in the same innocuous, non-objectionable class as aspirin and immunizations, right?  I mean, preventative care is preventative care.

Parts is parts.

Let’s be perfectly clear.  This isn’t an optional deal, and this doesn’t apply only to those employer-sponsored plans that already covered contraceptives.  This is MANDATORY FOR EVERYONE.  There is, to be fair, an exception for plans sponsored by “religious employers.”  So churches are exempt.  But otherwise, if you are an employer, and you provide health coverage for your employees, you’re now paying 100% for contraceptives, whether you like it or not.  And—and this is the kicker—if you are an employee and you have insurance through your employer, guess what:  you are, too.
Apparently only a church has standing anymore to have a moral objection to contraception.  Never mind your personal stance on the contraception/abortion issue; that’s not the point here.  The point here is that under the HHS ruling yesterday, none of us is even entitled to hold that objection anymore.  It’s been regulated away with the stroke of an agency pen, based on the recommendation of a panel you’ve never heard of, and now employers’ money to sponsor the plans, and employees’ premium payments under those plans must go into coverage pools part of which will be funding contraception.  You may have liked your plan that didn’t cover contraceptives, or at least required someone getting them to make a co-pay and have some stake in the game, but that’s too bad.  It may be the most morally reprehensible thing in the world to you, but whether you’re an employer or an employee, you’re going to pay for it anyway, Jack.  Unless, of course, you or your employer chooses to drop coverage altogether and put you into the federal clearinghouse.
So much for keeping your coverage.

Predictably, these measures don’t take effect until 2013, conveniently after the 2012 election cycle.  Once again, Obama claims credit for everything, and takes responsibility for nothing.  Who’s kicking the can down the road, Mr. President?

But it’s OK, you see, because apparently this is an historic victory for women’s health.  According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “[t]hese historic guidelines are based on science and existing [medical] literature and will help ensure women get the preventative health services they need.”  We’re told Sebelius acted after a panel from the Institute of Medicine indicated that the prevention of unintended pregnancies is essential for the psychological, emotional, and physical health of women.

All of these provisions are mandated under the guise of preventative health care.  They’re supposed to be preventing disease.  I’m sorry, maybe I missed something.  When, exactly, did pregnancy become a disease to be prevented?  The good news is I guess the President is technically keeping his spit-and-a-handshake promise to Bart Stupak that there would be no federally-funded abortions under Obamacare.  Sort of.

In 1809 Thomas Jefferson wrote that “[n]o provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority.”  Invoking this statement, Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Dan Boren (D-OK) have co-sponsored the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179), a bipartisan—curiously, the news reports never mention Rep. Boren or the fact that this bill is bipartisan—measure introduced in March aimed at “ensur[ing] that health care stakeholders retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions, without fear of being penalized or discriminated against under [Obamacare][.]”  You can read the text for yourself here: .

Hmmm.  “Conscientious objector” status under Obamacare.  I wonder what William Jefferson Clinton has to say about that?

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