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.

  • Oregon Catholic

    And of course it will be late on Friday, right before Super Bowl, to minimize all negative discussion that might come their way. Surely, the populace will have forgotten about it by Tuesday.

  • R.C.

    Translation: “You may own a business. Or, you may be a serious Christian. But if you want to own a business big enough to have employees, you must leave your Christianity at the door. The operation of a business is permitted only to persons of no faith, or persons whose faith is so emasculated that they don’t mind spending most of their waking hours cooperating with evil. When it comes to business ownership, serious Christians need not apply. They only permitted to earn their incomes by actually working for churches, or by taking employ under bosses who approve of abortion and artificial contraception.”

  • Bill S

    Employers should not impose their religious beliefs on their employees. Insurance coverage for contraception is routinely part of the employees’ plan because the provider would rather pay for that then the expenses of birth and added dependents. For example, Wheaton College didn’t even realize that it had contraceptive coverage for its employees and students and had to revise the plan to exclude it. How miserable is that?

    While the mandate has been amended to exempt religious institutions, the exemption does not extend to for-profit employers. It’s hard to understand how this is such a strain on anyone’s conscience.


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