The Administration Rolling Back the HHS Mandate? CNN Thinks “Yes.”

 

Back in December, I shared thoughts that perhaps the Administration will scuttle this ridiculous rule out of embarrassment alone. I mean, the phony war on women trope worked well enough to secure reelection, but in reality, it isn’t holding up in the courts.

Most likely they won’t scuttle it, but heavily modify it instead. The courts clamping down on the Administration to produce their promised changes certainly puts the HHS under pressure to get this done. CNN has sources who say the modification is forthcoming.

Washington (CNN) — Religiously affiliated organizations will be able to opt out of providing their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives under updates to an Obama administration mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to unveil on Friday, according to two sources.

In March, after an uproar among religious institutions that didn’t want to pay for contraceptives, the Obama administration offered several policy suggestions that would require the administrator of the insurance policy, not the religious institution or the insurer, to pay for contraception coverage and invited comment on those proposals.

The administration is expected to detail how it will handle two of the more controversial situations, said a source familiar with Friday’s announcement.

“Religiously affiliated organizations will be given the option of exempting themselves from the requirement of providing their employees with contraceptive access or service that they are morally opposed to,” said the source.

A spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department refused to comment on the expected policy announcement.

If an institution opts out of paying for contraceptive coverage, individual employees will get coverage through a third entity. That separate exchange, said the source, would be paid for by the insurance company.

The second proposal would address self-insurers, organizations that are large enough to pay for their own health care costs, such as a large Catholic diocese.

Those groups, according to the source, will be exempt from having to provide contraceptives, but their employees would be allowed access to contraceptive coverage through other means.

Read CNN’s entire story. Meanwhile, the folks over at Hot Air have the thoughts on how this might play out.

 So says CNN, which hears from two different sources that an opt-out will be created for “religiously affiliated organizations.”  While that may be good news for hospitals, charities, and schools linked to churches, it may not address the objections of private business owners:

Religiously affiliated organizations will be able to opt out of providing their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives under updates to an Obama administration mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to unveil on Friday, according to two sources.

In March, after an uproar among religious institutions that didn’t want to pay for contraceptives, the Obama administration offered several policy suggestions that would require the administrator of the insurance policy, not the religious institution or the insurer, to pay for contraception coverage and invited comment on those proposals.

The administration is expected to detail how it will handle two of the more controversial situations, said a source familiar with Friday’s announcement.

“Religiously affiliated organizations will be given the option of exempting themselves from the requirement of providing their employees with contraceptive access or service that they are morally opposed to,” said the source.

Surprised?  Don’t be.  The Obama administration is under court order to produce a new version of the HHS mandate, thanks to a federal court that essentially forced their attorneys to admit that HHS wouldn’t enforce the version that the White House has pushed for the last ten months.  That’s the so-called “accommodation” that asked everyone to pretend that funds used to provide contraception had no relation to the premiums paid by the employer. That wasn’t going to fly, and everyone knew it, including the White House months ago.

Today, the Obama administration will make that part of the retreat official.  What’s puzzling is why they waited a year to recognize that the courts would not allow the executive branch to limit the definition of “religion … or free exercise thereof” explicitly recognized in the First Amendment.  They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and some significant damage with Catholics especially had they simply included all religious-affiliated organizations in the exemption from the beginning.  The number of employees impacted will be relatively small anyway, which makes it a very weird hill on which to choose to fight.  The rewritten rule will have the belated benefit of getting the Catholic bishops off of Barack Obama’s back, at least for the most part.

Read the rest, as the Administration probably has a few caveats, provisos, and quid pro quo’s, etc. You know, like Alladin’s genie friend would put it.

As for me, I’ll be on the lookout for the document dump to see how this turns out. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: The Administration Issues Changes to HHS Mandate for Religious Institutions and Affiliates.

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