The Obama administration is offering a bogus compromise on its ObamaCare contraception mandate as it tries to get out from underneath a mountain of lawsuits citing religious freedom.
The so-called compromise announced by Health and Human Services Friday shows that "religious" employers such as hospitals and charities can get out of the mandate while religious businesses such as Hobby Lobby are still stuck with providing for coverage and free birth control for employees.
Group health plans of “religious employers” are exempted from having to provide contraceptive coverage, if they have religious objections to contraception.
Today’s NPRM would simplify the existing definition of a “religious employer” as it relates to contraceptive coverage.
The NPRM would eliminate criteria that a religious employer:
1. have the inculcation of religious values as its purpose;
2. primarily employ persons who share its religious tenets; and
3. primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets.
The simple definition of “religious employer” for purposes of the exemption would follow a section of the Internal Revenue Code, and would primarily include churches, other houses of worship, and their affiliated organizations, as defined by Section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii)
This proposed change is intended to clarify that a house of worship would not be excluded from the exemption because, for example, it provides charitable social services to persons of different religious faiths or employs persons of different religious faiths. The Departments believe that this proposal would not expand the universe of employer plans that would qualify for the exemption beyond that which was intended in the 2012 final rules.
Consistent with the Advance NPRM, the NPRM proposes accommodations for additional non profit religious organizations, while also separately providing enrollees contraceptive coverage with no co-pays. An eligible organization would be defined as an organization that:
1. opposes providing coverage for some or all of any contraceptive services required to be covered under Section 2713 of the PHS Act, on account of religious objections;
2. is organized and operates as a nonprofit entity;
3. holds itself out as a religious organization; and,
4. self-certifies that it meets these criteria and specifies the contraceptive services for which it objects to providing coverage.
Under the proposed accommodations, the eligible organizations would not have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.
In addition, under the proposed accommodations, plan participants would receive contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies, without cost sharing or additional premiums. The issuer would work to ensure a seamless process for plan participants to receive contraceptive coverage.RELATED: Sandra Fluke: Opposing the Contraception Mandate Is Just Like Opposing Leukemia Coverage