Courtesy of WSJ.com:
The head of the Catholic hospitals trade group reversed her support for the Obama administration’s proposed compromise on a controversial requirement that employers cover contraception in workers’ health plans. Sister Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association, was the most high-profile Catholic to speak in support of President Barack Obama‘s February announcement that the federal government would allow religious employers that object to the use of birth control to turn over responsibility for covering it for their workers to insurance companies.
In a formal submission to federal regulators, Sister Keehan wrote that the Catholic hospitals group had decided all of the options being discussed were “unduly cumbersome and would be unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns of all of our members and other Church ministries.”
I confess I didn’t pay enough attention to this whole issue when it was fresh. So I went back and read President Obama’s announcement, and I can see why Sister Keehan initially approved. She was probably sucked in momentarily by the affable, gracious-sounding rhetoric, just as I was: “I know how important the work that faith-based organizations do (sic) and how much impact they can have in their communities,” the President averred.
After “explaining” what the compromise would entail, he reiterated (twice):
“The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. Let me repeat: These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they’ll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries.”
Now I don’t have the most brilliant business mind, but that sounds like some pretty fancy footwork to me. Justturnright thought so several weeks ago:
Further, the argument that “the coverage will be provided for free” is specious and outright laughable. Even the LA Times called such statements “magical thinking” back in February.
It stands to reason: the insurance company is not Grandpa Gus, paying your bill out of the kindness of its corporate heart. That money is coming from somewhere. Typically it comes from premiums, whether the employer is paying them, the employee is paying them, or they’re sharing the cost. If neither the employer nor the employee is required to pay anything for a particular service, then–golly gee whillikers, do you really think the insurance company is going to fork it over out of its profits? Do you still get quarters from the Tooth Fairy?
Obviously, the insurance companies will be passing those costs along. Now, do you think they’ll be carefully raising the premiums of only non-objecting, nonreligious employers? Good heavens, that sounds like discrimination! No, I suspect what cleverer people figured out a long time ago, that everyone’s premiums will go up in order to pay for this cockamamie government scheme.
And for that reason–among others–Sister Keehan has wisely washed her hands of any involvement with such a dubious compromise.
This is timely, as the bishops have organized a “Fortnight for Freedom,” which begins tomorrow, June 21st.
Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.
This is a crucial period for the Church, and the addition of the hospitals into the fight is a critical blow to Obama’s claim that his compromise was anything of the sort.