My friend Scott Richert…

responds to something I’m not quite saying. He may well be right that the ruling yesterday dims the hope that the damnable HHS mandate will be overturned.  As I never tire of pointing out, I’m not a lawyer and so don’t claim to know one way or t’other what the full implications of this decision are.  I merely say that, whatever the prospects are for overturning that evil piece of arrogant lawlessness called the HHS mandate, it has not yet, in fact, been decided.  My hope and prayer is that, when it is decided, the Court will overturn this attempt to crush Catholic conscience.  Because if it does not, the time will have arrived for Catholics to defy the state with civil disobedience and be jailed.  My fear then is not that the Church will not survive the confrontation, but that America will not survive it.  The stupidest thing Caesar can possibly do is make war on the largest mediating institution in American civil life and drain away the massive amount of lubricant provided by its charitable work for the poor and vulnerable.  America will overheat and burn to the ground if Caesar makes such a massively foolish choice.  On that point, Scott and I are in total agreement.

  • Tim Jones

    What a great honor to be given the chance to suffer shame and humiliation and abuse in the name of Christ’s Church! It’s not to that point yet, but be prepared. Embrace it. Love it. BE the jail.

    • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

      I’m right there with you.

      That said – it’s my very young children and wife that I’m most concerned about.

    • Lazy Harp Seal

      Like many a internet insta-constitutional scholar, I haven’t read the entire Supreme Court decision. I have, however, read the USCCB’s response. It mentions both the positive effects it will have on many Americans and also the parts that are still problematic. It’s very noteworthy that they have dropped the tone of extreme urgency and sense of impending threats that was in their document on “Our Frist, Most Chersished Liberty”. Nowhere in yesterday’s statement does it say that the Affordable Care Act is an unjust law or that it must not be obeyed, as was implied in the former document. The Bishops still promise to seek broader religious exemption from mandated contraceptive coverage, but it seems that they are only seeking exemption from providing contraceptive coverage for religious employers (those who were exempted before HHS narrowed it), and not individual employers. While this certainly isn’t ideal, it’s probably more prudent than demanding that all employers be allowed to exempt from providing any health coverage a particular employer finds objectionable.
      If the Bishops’ quest is to simply re-expand the definition of religious employer to include hospitals, schools, etc. I am fairly optomistic, not because of yesterday’s 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on the ACA, but because of its unanimous 9-0 ruling in October’s HosanaTabor that the government is unable to define who qualifies as a “minister”. Meanwhile for individual employers, there was so much (albeit well-intentioned) frenzy the HHS’s mandated contraceptive coverage that there was very little discussion about the moral complexity of an employer providing a health insurance plan that includes contraceptive coverage (which employees may or may not use), which is not morally ideal, but has never been clearly condemned. So I think people can calm down for a while and save their “it’s the end of the wooooooorld” dramatics for Abraham Linclon when he’s out killing vampires this summer.

      • Ted Seeber

        Just a small point in fact- “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” wasn’t about the ACA, it was about the HHS Mandate, which while enabled by the ACA, is NOT in the ACA and was never voted on by Congress.

        The Bishops mission is to simply re-expand the definition of what is a Catholic ministry, and yes, I’m as optimistic as you are on that.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    well, considering that if the entire “ACA” was thrown out, the HHS mandate would have been thrown out with it, too, I’m pretty sure that indeed, yesterday’s ruling dims the hope that the HHS mandate will be done away with.

    • Tim

      I really don’t see how it dims the hope that it will be done away with. If our sole hope in defeating the HHS mandate is the courts, then yes, our hopes are dimmed.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        Huh? If the ACA went down, then the HHS mandate had a 100% chance of going down with it. I’m pretty sure that our chances now of defeating it are less than 100%.

        • Tim

          It violates the First Amendment or it does not. This decision doesn’t really shed light on that. Even if the Supreme Court did strike down the entire law, it wouldn’t have said anything about the HHS mandate itself. It would have been struck down because tainted by the individual mandate.

          I’m sure Obama could find some other pretense for passing something like the HHS mandate.

          • Zippy

            Some future possible thing like the HHS mandate isn’t the actual HHS mandate though. Maybe in the future legislation will pass that (say) enslaves all Catholics. That abstract possibility would not excuse us from opposing an actual piece of legislation actually doing so, on the ridiculous grounds that opposing the particular legislation would not foreclose the possibility of anything like it ever happening again.

            The whole line of “argument” is ridiculous. If Roe vs Wade could be overturned on some perfectly legitimate grounds, it is no argument against doing so to claim that some future thing like Roe might arise again.

            Ridiculous.

            • Tim

              I don’t see how it is ridiculous. No one has demonstrated any willingness to enslave Catholics. President Obama and his Health and Human Services Secretary have shown they are willing to coerce religious employers to buy contraception. It isn’t an abstraction.

              You’re argument about Roe supports my argument more actually. The “right” to an abortion is grounded in the Constitution. The HHS mandate is grounded in legislation. Would you destroy the whole Constitution for some reason just to incidentally get rid of Roe v. Wade? Or would you rather the Supreme Court address it directly and overturn it?

              • Zippy

                I don’t see how it is ridiculous.

                Then there is something wrong with your reasoning ability that I cannot repair with a blog comment.

                • Tim in Cleveland

                  Really? I thought I did my best explaining myself and not resorting to condescension or ad hominems.

                  The legal fight over the individual mandate is over, but the fight over the HHS mandate is just beginning. If people want to overturn the ACA in its entirety, then look to repeal it. Despairing over NFIB v. Sebilius is a lost cause.

                  I think Mark has a point about this decision being very technical and that it is probably best not to comment on it when he is not familiar with all the intricacies of Constitutional doctrine. Otherwise, one makes uninformed assertions that are helpful to no one.

              • Chris

                “I don’t see how it is ridiculous. No one has demonstrated any willingness to enslave Catholics.”

                I think a Catholic pharmacist who has to dole out abortifacients or give up his life’s work might disagree.

  • Ted Seeber

    May I offer another possible interpretation? I agree with you that the possibility of compromise may be over. But that does NOT mean the Obama Administration has won, for the following three reasons:
    1. The HHS Mandate is an interpretation of the law passed by Congress, it is NOT explicit in the ACA itself, anywhere.
    2. The Department of Health and Human Services is not the IRS, and thus, the HHS Mandate cannot be described as a tax- and the recent Roberts Decision included a very strict definition limiting the commerce clause. Even so, the commerce clause refers to the power of CONGRESS, not the EXCECUTIVE, so goto step 1.
    3. It would be extremely hard in court to prove that removing a woman’s fertility is health care. I realize the liberal definition of health care includes it, but that is not the same as saying that the evidence is conclusive. Therefore I think a good argument can be made that the HHS Mandate is a bad interpretation of the ACA simply because contraception isn’t care.

  • Ted Seeber

    The above is crossposted from Scott’s blog. I’m going to add a 4th reason that only applies to this blog:
    4. The real problem with the HHS Mandate has nothing to do with the ACA- and everything to do with the definition of what a Church is allowed to do in our society and still be a church. If the HHS Mandate stands, then every soup kitchen, hospital, food bank, and clothes closet will have to be restricted to the membership of that particular parish, both in terms of donations and who can be served. In addition to that, if the atheist down the street needs a job, you won’t be able to hire him to be the janitor without endangering your status under the HHS Mandate.

    THAT is the real issue- that the HHS Mandate includes a definition of Church that violates the Free Exercise Clause of the 1st Amendment. Has nothing at all to do with the commerce clause or taxes.

    • Molly

      Thank you for the clarification and I agree with you. I also see the upside to this in that if the whole ACA were thrown out, the HHS mandate would’ve gone with it by default, with no comment on it whatsoever. It would have, for the time being, just become a non-issue. It wouldn’t have been dealt with at all, just made to go away. The problem with that, as great as it sounds, is that it’s not an issue exclusive to Obamacare, it will pop back up again and again and again, and it needs to have definititive judgement on it. I also think it’s a subject the Court will have a much easier time dealing with in that at the heart of it it’s not about policy, it’s about rights, and that is what the court was created to deal with. I’m kind of laughing at so many who seem to think that this law being overturned completely would’ve just “fixed” everything.

      • Ted Seeber

        I sit on the board of directors for a small homeless outreach ministry. If the HHS Mandate is upheld, we will be forced to provide our directoress, a 67 year old woman and the only “employee” of the ministry, with contraceptive care. She hasn’t had sex since a rape in 1973, and is post-menopausal and a single mother (and grandmother!) from that rape, but we’d have to provide her with insurance covering these benefits anyway. This for an organization that has Catholics and non-Catholics on the board and while our mission is extremely faith based, cannot be classified as a church and has so few donations we’re going to be forced to suspend her pay this month.

        The HHS Mandate is a big concern to us.

        • Molly

          Of course I think it’s a big concern, I think you misread me. I’m saying that it is an issue that is going to have to be faced in SCOTUS eventually, and that it wouldn’t in essence have “gone away” with the overturning of the ACA. Believe me, I’m as against the HHS mandate as you are. But if it turns out that this court DOES make a definitive statement on it in our favor, I’ll take that over the it just “going away” for the time being.

          • Ted Seeber

            I’m sorry, I think I posted that without the finish.

            The HHS Mandate, as written, you’re completely right, will cover a heck of a lot more than just the Catholic Church. It’s a federal power grab that will apply to EVERY faith based charity organization in the country- and you’re also right, without SCOTUS ruling on it specifically and as a separate issue, it will only get worse, not better.

            • Molly

              Ahh makes a lot more sense now.

        • MClark

          I thought providing insurance to employees under Obamacare only applied to businesses with over 50 employees. If so, you don’t have to worry.

          • Ted Seeber

            The ACA has the 50 person limit. The HHS Mandate is missing this limit, or in fact, any common sense.

            • MClark

              Now I’m completely confused. I thought the HHS Mandate applied to the insurance the employer had to provide under ACA. If the employer is not providing insurance under ACA- because they are under the 50 person limit- then the HHS mandate does not apply. Do you have a reference that explains your understanding?

              • Ted Seeber

                The HHS Mandate, as I understanding, applies to *ALL* insurance provided by *ANY* organization as an employer. It is about what insurance will cover, not about the employee coverage. That’s why the “accommodation” was worded the way it was.

        • Jenny

          Since there is only 1 employee of this non-profit, then your health plan wouldn’t be the primary payor for your director under the Medicare Secondary Payor rules. See https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Manuals/Downloads/msp105c01.pdf

          The ACA doesn’t supersede the MSP rules regarding the working aged.

    • Zippy

      The real problem with the HHS Mandate has nothing to do with the ACA- and everything to do with the definition of what a Church is allowed to do in our society and still be a church.

      So is it perfectly fine, in your view, for the government to force private individuals and enterprises to cooperate in intrinsic evil as long as those individuals and institutions are not specifically religious/confessional in character?

    • Chris

      Molly – The Court doesn’t have to hear an HHS challenge at all if they’re concerned it will turn into a never-ending Dickensian legal odyssey on every single point of contention with the items in ACA or the powers it grants to things like the HHS Mandate. In this case, a bird in hand was worth a million in the bush. There’s no guarantee that when such a case made its way to SCOTUS (probably in a couple years), there would be four votes to actually hear it.

      Whether or not it would have “fixed” everything is missing the point. If someone hands you the ability to stop grave sin through legitimate means, any failure to do so is not soothed by realpolitik — it’s tragic to the core. This is like excusing the pitcher for walking a batter because now it might result in a double-play. Don’t walk the batter in the first place.

  • Gerald McMahon

    The problem with expecting or advocating that Catholics resist the HHS mandate, up to the point of accepting jail time, if it stands, is that the affected organizations are comprised of many people, many of whom will not be willing to accept that, or to accept going without health insurance or to disobey the government. Who would be going to jail, anyway-the presidents of colleges, etc? There will be tremendous pressure on the leadership of our Catholic colleges and universities, etc, to secularize rather than remain Catholic and face destructive fines for failing to provide the prescribed health insurance plans. I wonder if many people have thought out what it will be like if so many Catholic schools, hospitals, charitable organizations, founded and supported by thousands of Catholics and others over the decades, are lost-likely turned over to secular leadership. Crucifixes would be stripped from the walls, Mass could no longer be said, a great witness lost-it is a terrible thing to imagine. Yes, the secular society will eventually suffer, but that will take time to develop; there will be pressure not to let these institutions just vanish, but to turn them over to other caretakers.
    I join with the Bishops in fighting and praying for the reversal of the HHS mandate.

    • Elaine S.

      Same question here: who, exactly, would be “going to jail” and for what? The penalty for not having insurance under Obamacare (for whatever reason, including moral objections) is payment of an additional tax to the IRS. I discovered yesterday that Massachusetts has a similar provision under which persons who don’t have health insurance add an extra payment to their state income tax, which varies according to their income level. (If you’re below a certain level, I think it’s 150% of the Federal Poverty Level, you don’t have to pay the tax at all.) Once you pay the tax, you’re good; and the cost of the tax is often less than what it would cost to buy insurance on the open market. Is paying the tax an acceptable moral alternative to having objectionable health insurance coverage, or is that also considered unacceptable cooperation with evil because it might be used to support abortion — in which case, I suppose, the objectors would be going to jail for tax evasion?

  • Liz

    Hi Mark,
    In two days, my health insurance premium is going up to pay for contraceptive coverage. Does this mean that I have to cancel my insurance coverage? I’ve heard a lot about what Catholic institutions should do, but what about individual Catholics like me? I am seriously wondering what the right thing is to do in this awful situation.

    • Mark Shea

      As I understand it, paying your premium would be reckoned as “remote material cooperation with evil” and would be morally permissible. But I’m no expert.

      • Liz

        To Mark & Ted Seeber,
        Thanks for your responses! Ted: thanks for the link. I’ll look into that.

      • Molly

        Mark, not sure if you know or are willing to make a guess, what would be the ramifications of this to Catholic business owners (which is what we are) of companies over 50? We seem to be the ones left out in the dark here, although I’ve heard it mentioned plenty of times that we need to be considered. But most of the talk is about Church affiliated employers, not just orthodox practicing Catholics.

    • Ted Seeber

      What Mark said. What I’m doing: researching alternatives, such as Solidarity Health Share:
      http://solidarityhealthshare.com

  • Adolfo

    Has anyone bothered to read what the Bishops have to say on the matter? http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-119.cfm
    Far less inflammatory than the rest of the rhetoric coming from any of the national pro-life groups. They don’t seem to think that the bill (apart from the abortion clauses) destroys America or anything else.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

    Mark,
    You are not connecting the base features of modern socialism with Catholic morality. Those of us who do are in a continual burn over them because they are fundamentally incompatible with Catholic morality.

    Ultimately, socialism is never appealing when it is honest. It is built on a massive base of lies where Caesar is robbing Peter, taking a cut, and paying Paul. The system is addictive in that the robbery and payments tend to grow higher over time. Everybody takes their turn at being Peter and being Paul but always with more time as Peter than Paul. Ultimately you must enslave Peter to keep the system going. In a rich country the process can take decades to play itself out. More relevantly to Obamacare, we’ve been doing it since the creation of Medicare in the 1960s and the process is well developed.

    If we were earlier in the process of hollowing out our health care system with socialism, we’d have the spare cash lying around to work around conscience issues objectionable to Caesar. Creating alternate health clinics to ensure that access to death drugs is preserved is not rocket science. The government is taking on the Church because it doesn’t have the cash necessary to take the easy way out. The HHS mandate is a consequence of a bigger movement that is going to impose more and more unacceptable conditions on the Church because the Church is just another Peter to be enslaved in the eyes of socialist Caesar.

    • Mark Shea

      Maybe it’s just me, but as a general rule, I get my ideas on what is and is not fundamentally compatible with Catholic morality from the magisterial teachers of the Church, not from some guy in a combox. This — http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-119.cfm — would suggest that the bishops are not as insta certain that the ACA is fundamentally incompatible with Catholic morality.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        I bow my head to the bishops’ moral teaching as a rule. Their understanding of economics has, to my observation, been much less well developed and where they mix morality and economics a bishop’s faulty economics can certainly lead him to make morally correct points about a world that economically does not actually exist. This is also true for an entire synod like the USCCB.

        Certainly not all bishops are economically illiterate and all of them to my understanding are pastorally appropriate in not imposing conformity on economic issues. I just wish they weren’t such lightweights on economics as a group.

        • Mark Shea

          Fine. But about that claim that ACA is fundamentally incompatible with Catholic teaching….

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            You’re going a step too far in connecting the knee bone to the ear bone. If a bank robber drops a buck in a beggar’s tin cup on the way out of a robbery, the charitable impulse doesn’t excuse the robbery. Then again, the charitable impulse itself has nothing wrong with it. The ACA’s tin cup filling isn’t the problem. Driving our medical system down the toilet with its government focused systems is the problem because more sick people will die.

            Just focusing on the HHS mandate is myopic to the point of dereliction. I don’t think that this is what the bishops are actually doing (at least I hope not) but it does seem to be closer to your approach. We are in an information age where we should be incorporating what we have learned about wealth creation to avoid unnecessary poverty, suffering, and misery. Our understanding of economics allows us to handle these issues much better but only if we don’t shut our eyes to what economists have learned. 100 million people died in the 20th century proving that certain economic arrangements don’t work and are truly soul crushing. Adopting them piecemeal in the ACA should be resisted by the Church even where they do not directly impinge on the Church’s freedom to practice our common faith.

            The idea to ensure that the sick are cared for is certainly not incompatible with Catholic teaching. It’s right smack in the middle of it. Doing it in a socialist manner that is neither sustainable and will end up costing more lives than it saves is a lot more problematic and the Church should emphasize some of its already long held notions like subsidiarity and how a centralized solution like the ACA opposes subsidiarity.

            • Tim in Cleveland

              I’d rather have the Bishops focus the Church’s resources on combating actual threats to religious freedom. I don’t see how anyone is morally compelled to resist the entire ACA, especially when most people (including me) don’t know most of what is in it. The warnings of socialism are nothing more than speculation and presuppose a kind of Spenglerian view of history.

    • Ted Seeber

      What Mark Said + OBAMACARE IS NOT SOCIALIST, IT’S FASCIST.

      A socialist health care system *also removes the right of private property*- that is, it would take direct governmental ownership of either all or most health care companies, hospitals, insurance companies, and doctor’s offices.

      All Obamacare really does is require them to offer a bunch more benefits in return for a guaranteed customer base.

      The “broken” aspect of this is what those benefits are, and how the regulations are being applied.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Fascism is a form of socialism. It is an unfortunate side effect of the horrors of their *other* policies (especially their racial ones) that this is generally glossed over in high school classes where most people encounter fascism and gain their lasting impression of it.

        • Ted Seeber

          The difference between fascism and socialism is ownership, which Rerum Novarum made clear.

          Under fascism, the market takes over the government and certain businesses are given monopoly and oligarchical powers while freezing other businesses out of the marketplace through regulation.

          Under socialism, the government takes over the market and nobody other than the state is allowed to own anything at all.

          • Molly

            This is what I’m wondering though. Could this have been, all along, a first step towards single-payer government controlled socialized health care? On purpose? I kept trying to make an argument today that now the “penalty/tax/whatever the heck it is (it’s a tax)” is going to go to the federal government, not the insurance companies, and it’s relatively lower than most insurance premiums are going to be, therefore easier to choose if you’re young/healthy/etc. But what Roberts did didn’t change that, it just brought it to the surface. The money from the penalty was NEVER meant to go to the insurance companies and the amount of the penalty has not changed. Yet they were, or so they claimed, counting on the new enrollees to make up for the extra cost of not being able to turn away pre-existing conditions etc. This will bankrupt the insurance companies. Which leads me to . . . who bales them out? And who owns them when they’re baled out? Or am I being too overdramatic and conspiracy theorist? Would a president purposefully bankrupt an entire (maybe the biggest) industry on purpose? Seriously, I’m just posting this to see if I’m stupid for not realizing this sooner, realized something that a lot of people realized long before me, or am being very paranoid? (I hope it’s the third).

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            So Mussolini and Hitler were just puppets of their local robber barons? I think you’d have a tough time finding that in the historical record. It’s just not the way things worked. So long as the Junkers at al danced to the tune of the state, they could earn outsized profits but step out of line to exercise real ownership control and those business owners were quickly shoved aside and worse.

            • Ted Seeber

              Don’t know about Mussolini- but in the case of Hitler, there were a lot of factories provided with Jewish Slave Labor.

    • Ted Seeber

      Also, while I believe socialism is the *wrong* way to do it, the fact of the matter is health care is one of those areas where savage capitalism does brutalize people- and to paraphrase Fr. Sircio while disagreeing with him, the Church has been against Savage Capitalism since Rerum Novarum in 1891. (I disagree with the head of the Acton Institute on so much- he was once a supporter of homosexual priesthood, he seems to thing Savage Capitalism has disappeared from the United States despite people being “brutalized” left and right, he seems to be for gay marriage).

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        What exactly do you mean by a “savage” capitalism? Thats just name calling without actual content. Capitalism is an economic system. How we provide for the poor is an economic question. How *well* we provide for the poor is a moral question. Capitalism provides for the poor by making goods and services cheap enough to be in their reach. It does that better than any other economic system on the planet. What is savage about that? What some people call “savage” capitalism is the economic system of capitalism married to a general moral level of complete lack of compassion, grace, and charity that is utterly anti-christian. While Capitalism is compatible with that system of morality it is compatible in only a trivial sense because capitalism is compatible with all systems of morality. It holds itself responsible only with the economic sphere.

        • ivan_the_mad

          “Thats just name calling without actual content.” No, it is a term in use. I’m sure a Google search will turn up plenty of hits. I don’t know much about it beyond having encountered the term so I can’t comment on its merits (or lack thereof).

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            Actually it does seem to turn up a lot of name calling. Do you have an actual definition that is more than that?

        • Ted Seeber

          Read the New York Times interview with Fr Sircio. Or better yet, read Rerum Novarum by Pope Leo XIII for a description of the term without using the term. Near as I can tell, Fr Sircio made up the term to describe the form of Capitalism that Pope Leo XIII said was the primary cause of socialism; and that Fr Sircio’s argument in the Times is that form of capitalism no longer exists and nobody is ever harmed by economic warfare.

    • Chris

      “Ultimately you must enslave Peter to keep the system going.”

      Disagree. Socialism doesn’t enslave Peter to balance the system, he kills off Paul.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        I do not believe that it is an either/or situation. Can you give an argument why it is not both? Look at the income differential between the communist workers and their capitalist equivalents (use black market currency exchange rates for something closer to reality) to see a good argument for the proposition that socialism enslaves Peter.

        I completely concede the point that it kills Paul.

        • Chris

          Okay I can agree there’s a combination at work.

  • Susan D.

    There may be one bright spot–since the individual mandate (with its “abortion surchage” to be made effective in 2014) is now ruled to be a tax, that could mean that the that surchage is null and void; current federal law prevents using federal tax monies directly for abortion services.

  • Evan

    I’m really not trying to be argumentative here, but here’s how I see it.
    If the government controls and funds healthcare, then it has the power to define healthcare. A private insurance company has the right to cover whatever it wishes under the guise of “healthcare,” whether that be doctor appointments, prescription medication, contraception, abortion, or injuries incurred by attempting to fly by jumping off three-story buildings. A private company could also force you to buy expensive organic foods or charge you more, claiming you are more expensive to insure unless you live the way that they want you to. Normally, if an insurance company did that, no one would buy from it and it would close. Now that the government controls healthcare, it can mandate what constitutes healthcare and force all insurance providers to cover whatever it mandates, and there will be no searching for a different provider. If it is constitutional for the government to run healthcare, then it is also constitutional for the government to crush Catholic consciences in the name of “healthcare.” This is why I believe the Bishops are naively misguided in their claim that the ACA needs repairs and not repeal.

    • Chris

      This.

      Anyone who wants to know how many Mack Trucks they can drive through the word “health” need only look at the abortion industry.

      There’s very little that can be described as hyperbole, when considering possible scenarios, given the actions already taken by HHS to crush Catholic Conscience.

      If HHS determines that Church teaching on homosexual behavior is psychologically traumatizing to certain members of the public, that seems like enough ammo to silence the Church in its solemn duty of evangelization.

    • Jenny

      The government already “controls” healthcare.

      First, they are the largest purchaser of healthcare services through Medicare and Medicaid. Second, the premiums for employer group health plans reduce taxable earnings and are also tax deductible to your employer meaning that they are government subsidized. Third, the “rules” of your employer group plan, e.g. when can you enroll, how do you add a child, etc. come straight out of the IRS regs. Fourth, the training of new doctors are subsidized by Medicare. I could go on and on and I haven’t even gotten to the state professional regulations.
      The claim forms that we bill with are government forms even if Medicare isn’t the payor. The codes we use are Medicare codes.
      It already “controls” and “funds” healthcare.
      BTW, private payors are not entirely free to define benefits. Many states have requirements about minimal coverage for plans that are regulated by the state (any plan that isn’t self funded and therefore regulated by ERISA – federal regulation). For example, in a handful of states, insurance has to coverage infertility treatment, including IVF. There are regulations in NJ that don’t allow payors to discriminate on the basis of health status for individual policies so have to accept all applicants regardless of past medical history.

  • http://confederatepapist.blogspot.com/ Confederate Papist

    If the government controls healthcare, it controls what the insurance companies must provide. That means if they can’t afford to do it at the prices the government dictates, they go out of business.

    It’s then a process of elimination as they close the doors until there are one or two major companies left, PLUS the government…which is what Tyrant Obama told his union buddies during a campaign stop in ’07 or ’08.

    The dominoes are already falling…….

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    It was noted earlier on this thread that contraception is not healthcare. I agree, but the argument put forth by the Pelvic Left is that women are injured and/or die through childbirth; contraception, if these women had used it, would have prevented these injuries; hence, in such womens’ case, contraception was “health care.”

    Our best chance, I think, is to get the word out that the form of “health care” that Obama wants to force everyone to pay for actually harms women. The World Health Organization classifies the most frequently prescribed oral contraceptive as a Class I carcinogen (along with tobacco and asbestos), and its use has been linked to increased rates breast cancer and to cervical cancer in women who use it. Very little publicity about this in the MSM, natch, since the whole Sexual Revolution depends on The Pill and this kind of news would be very unpopular.

  • http://www.wanderingheretic.com Caine

    I have to think that the move treating ObamaCare as a tax makes the HHS mandate less vulnerable to “religious or moral freedom” arguments. After all we must pay taxes on a lot of things we morally or religiously object to. Mark mentions a lot of them: unending wars, terrorist wars against our own citizens, drone attacks, etc. yet we must pay the taxes that support such atrocities. In fact, contraception almost pales in comparison.

    • Mark Shea

      The HHS mandate isn’t about taxes. Our taxes already cover outrages done in our name, as you note. The mandate is about compelling Catholic organizations to do something directly repugnant to Catholic conscience–and that out of spite.

      That said, it is impressive to me that guys like Rush can overlook our Ruling Class voting itself the power to murder and indefinitely jail citizens–indeed lots of conservatives find that to be the only cool and awesome thing Obama does–and suddenly find this to be the End of the World as we know it and talk about the death of liberty and America, etc. Seems like majoring in minors to me.

      • Mike Blackadder

        Mark, the ACA penalty isn’t really a tax either. This is the problem, and why I think Caine is correct. In other words if we accept that the government is now permitted to penalize people monetarily regardless of whether such a penalty is legally justified (because we say it can be considered a form of taxation) then you see how this very argument leads to the same conclusion with the HHS mandate. They aren’t forcing you to buy something or to support abortion, they are just taxing you.

  • Peggy R

    Even if O-care had been overturned or HHS mandate invalidated by courts or repealed, if Pres O or a pres with similar values were in office, the mandate would not be eliminated. Recall that O has been pressing Belmont Abbey to provide contraceptive coverage since well before O-care was developed and signed by O. Not sure whether they’d succeed w/o O-care, which doesn’t specifically require contraception, etc. We’d have to see.

  • http://medpedia.com/users/110 Larry Weisenthal

    It’s a mandate on the insurance company, not on the employer. The insurance company is mandated simply to make available an insurance rider as a purely private contract between insurance company and employee. The insurance policy is earned compensation, just like wages, and it not some gift. The employer has no right to tell the employee how to spend her wages and the employer has no right to tell the employee that she can’t enter into a private contract to modify her insurance policy.

    Calling this an attack on religious freedom cheapens the meaning of religious freedom beyond all recognition.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

    • Ted Seeber

      “It’s a mandate on the insurance company, not on the employer.” That was offered as a trial balloon, but since it was rejected by the Bishops on being as downright superficial as it sounds, the Obama Administration went ahead and decided to go with the ORIGINAL wording of the HHS mandate.

  • http://medpedia.com/users/110 Larry Weisenthal

    Hi Ted, Kindly explain the difference between an employee spending her wages on contraceptives and an employee entering into a private contract with the insurance company (just between employee and insurance company) to modify the terms of her insurance policy. Both wages and health insurance policy are earned compensation. The USCCB knows it has no right to prevent the employee from spending her paycheck on contraceptives but maintains that it’s a horrendous infringement on religious freedom and conscience to allow the employee to enter into a private contract to modify the terms of her insurance policy to include coverage for contraceptives. God knows that there is absolutely no difference, even if the USCCB doesn’t.

    The USCCB has cheapened the meaning of religious freedom beyond recognition, as previously asserted. They are behaving as political hacks and not as defenders of the faith.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

    • Molly

      If you are getting your insurance through an employer it is NOT earned compensation. It is a benefit. It is such a wide spread and institutionalized benefit that most people think of it as compensation now. But it’s not. There is a cost to the employer (beyond if they are paying part of the premium, which most are) that is not in anyway passed down to the employee. No employer is forced to offer insurance. Employer provided insurance is in no way a private contract.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      The USCCB does not seek to deny the ability of an employee to do as you say, negotiate a private agreement with an insurance company. They seek to end the HHS mandate which does something quite different.

      The HHS mandate says that the Catholic institution must enter into a negotiation and contract for abortion/contraception services and then offer the results of that negotiated contract to all its employees. A religious Catholic is thus put into the place of signing a piece of paper committing his organization to doing something he feels is morally abhorrent. This is no different in terms of religious freedom than requiring you to burn a bit of incense to Caesar. It is a small act, but it is intolerable.

  • http://Www.markinspokane.blogspot.com Mark in Spokane

    I hate to say this, but the bishops are not going to fight. Not a single one of them will go to jail, and not a single one of them will close a single Catholic institution once the HHS mandate is upheld (and it will be upheld, on at least a 5-4 vote, Roberts + the liberals). The ruling yesterday is quite clear that the scope of government power is now limitless if the action of the government is properly couched. For the new liberal statist majority on the Court, the HHS mandate will simply be viewed as an extension of an already held-constitutional program. The Catholic bishops won’t fight on this because they don’t have the stomach for a fight. They will raise high the banners of the church to fight for the things they really care about (getting rid of the death penalty, getting rid of the southern border, socialized medicine) but when it comes to right to life measures and whatnot, well, meh. Makes them look too Republican. And they won’t be having any of that. The bishops we have are the same kinds of bishops the church was blessed with in Henry VIII’s day. We may have a Fisher or two to our credit, but the vast majority will acquiesce to the Administration when push comes to shove. Because they don’t want a fight.

    • Molly

      Mark, it’s kind of sounding like you want it this way so you can complain about it? Just saying. Three or four years ago I might’ve agreed with you. But lately they’ve been, you know, pretty proactive. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and pray that they are waking up, because whether they will or they won’t they CAN bring about much change. So I’m looking for them to do so.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      Whether or not the bishops fight (and I think you’re being quite pessimistic) I’m sure that the Church will fight. I know two bishops personally. I believe that both of them will fight, yes to the point of prison.

      • http://www.markinspokane.blogspot.com Mark in Spokane

        I’ll believe it when I see it.

        I simply do not see any of our current bishops going to prison. They aren’t of that mettle. They will speech-ify, the will issue letters, etc. But they aren’t going to go to prison. And they won’t be closing down any of the Church’s physical plant either. The hospitals will stay open, the universities, etc. The Jesuits will trot out and provide a suitably scholastic set of reasons why the bishops are right to do all of this, and we will happily go back upon our merry way. The corruption that is facing is not largely a corruption from outside the Church (although it is that), it is more and more a corruption within the Church, an inability of the Church’s leaders and the Church’s flock to understand precisely the moment they are in. They do not recognize the time. And they grossly underestimate their opposition. As many clerics could not understand how Henry VIII — the Defender of the Faith — could actively conspire to destroy the Church in England and replace it with a counterfeit church, most of the Catholic clergy and laity cannot truly bring themselves to see The One for what he is. And because of that, they cannot see what The One wants to do to the Church. Their minds simply cannot comprehend it. And so, they won’t comprehend it. They will give in, inch by inch, at first with some fig leaf covering (“insofar as the law of God allows”) and then more and more rapidly and more and more eagerly. This is a movie that has played many times before. We are about to get to see it again…

        • Molly

          Well, even if you’re right, cheer up (and chill out, just a little). The gates of Hell and all that. The Church isn’t going anywhere, no matter where you think the bishops are headed.

    • ivan_the_mad

      With friends like these, the bishops don’t need enemies. Glad to see you have telepathy and powers of precognition.

      “The bishops we have are the same kinds of bishops the church was blessed with in Henry VIII’s day.” If you mean bishops like St. John Fisher, then I’d agree. If you mean the other kind, that’s a horribly uncharitable smear and you should be ashamed to speak of the shepherds of the Church so. Question: You’ve helped the bishops in this fight today how? Because the fight isn’t just the bishops’, it’s the laity’s as well. So spare us the smug condescension.

      • http://www.markinspokane.blogspot.com Mark in Spokane

        Ivan,

        The writing is on the wall. Look at what the bishops do. Don’t look at what they say. Look at what they do. That is the guide to understanding them. Their actions speak volumes.

        • Molly

          Kind of like Peter’s did?

  • Bill

    Larry it is an infringement on my church’s freedom of religion.

  • http://medpedia.com/users/110 Larry Weisenthal

    Hi Bill,
    Thanks for your civility.
    But I stand by everything I wrote. Health insurance isn’t a gift. It’s earned compensation. Same as wages. I’d give the Bishops credit if their position was that employees should sign a contract that they promised not to use their wages for purchasing contraceptive services. But they don’t have the guts to take that position. It’s an outrage that the USCCB is trying to draw an entirely semantic distinction between allowing employees to purchase contraceptives with their earned wages and being permitted to enter into purely private contracts — entirely divorced from their employers — to modify their EARNED health insurance contracts.

    As I wrote; God isn’t a fool.

    They are partisan political hacks. They are a disgrace to their vows.

    And they are an affront to American democracy.

    And they trivialize the sacred principle of religious freedom.

    - Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach CA

    • Molly

      Insurance is not compensation, nor is it a “gift”, it is a benefit. It is a service an employer provides as an incentive to the employee. It is not wages.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      Insurance is not earned compensation. It is a contract. You sign up and pay for it and both employer and employee have to agree to the terms of the contract for employer provided insurance to work. Insurance implies moral approval of the terms of the contract on the part of the employer.

      The contract is usually available with and without the participation of the employer but on different terms. If you get it individually, the Catholic Church does not view that contract as impinging on religious freedom. When the employer is forced to start offering these contracts and actual people have to sign actual agreements to send money to the insurer so that the employees can have the opportunity to buy their contraception and abortion on cheaper financial terms, you then have a religious freedom problem.

  • http://drollman.com Mike Drollman

    As a Catholic who sells health insurance, I am particularly interested in this topic and appreciate the thoughtful comments posted here. I’m trying to decide if I, in good conscience, can continue to sell health plans at all. I’m thinking, probably not.


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