Wednesday, May 16, 2012

HHS Mandate, Six Reasons Why It's a Bad Idea

Once in a while, a rogue ruler decides to tell his subjects what they're allowed to believe, and how they should apply the state-approved beliefs to everyday life. I've mentioned Henry VIII of England before.

Belief Without Action: Unacceptable

In comparison, America's ruler is rather open-minded. So far, we're allowed to have any religious belief we want: as long as we don't act as if those beliefs matter. The big issue just now is a HHS (Health and Human Services) mandate: one that forces folks who respect life to ignore that belief:
"...'We believe that this mandate is unjust and unlawful - it is bad health policy, and because it entails an element of government coercion against conscience, it creates a religious freedom problem,' ... 'These moral and legal problems are compounded by an extremely narrow exemption that intrusively and unlawfully carves up the religious community into those that are deemed "religious enough" for an exemption, and those that are not.'...
(News release, USCCB (May 15, 2012))

State-Approved Religious Practices: Six Reasons Why It's a Really Bad Idea

I've put the full text of a news release from the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at the end of this post.1 They discuss six reasons why America's leadership should let Americans pay attention to our consciences.

I think this outline may be a little easier to skim through:
  1. The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) does not change the fact that contraceptive services are included in the list of mandated preventive services
    • This has remained unchanged from an earlier regulation announced in August 2011
  2. The ANPRM does not change the administration's criteria for defining 'religious employers' exempted from the mandate
    • An exemption that USCCB calls
      • Unprecedented in federal law
      • Improperly narrow
      • Unlawful
    • Criteria for exemption from the HHS rule include
      • Employers primarily hire and serve only members of their own religion
  3. Many stakeholders in the health insurance process - religious and secular insurers with a conscientious objection to the mandate are completely ineligible for the exemption
    • Including
      • Religious and secular for-profit employers
      • Individual policy-holders
      • Others
    • The ANPRM does not acknowledge or address this problem
      • As a result, those stakeholders
        • "...will be required in the next few months either to drop out of the health insurance marketplace, potentially triggering crippling penalties, or to provide coverage that violates their deeply-held convictions."
  4. The administration has invited public comment on some further 'accommodation' for certain non-exempt religious organizations
    • But secular stakeholders will receive no such accommodation
      • "We believe that the contraceptive mandate violates the religious and conscience rights of these stakeholders as well and is unlawful."
  5. "Conscientiously-objecting non-exempt religious organizations will still be required to provide plans that serve as a conduit for contraceptives and sterilization procedures to their own employees, and their premiums will help pay for those items."
    • Regardless of the definition of "religious organization," this central problem remains
    • The administration has invited comment on different approaches for how to deal with a self-insured employer
      • But "none of them will solve the problems that the mandate creates for non-exempt religious organizations with a conscientious objection to contraceptive coverage."
  6. The ANPRM raises new questions such as whether
    • Employers must be independently exempt for their employees to participate in an exempt plan
    • Religious objection to some, but not all, contraceptives should be accommodated
    • A past practice of mistakenly or unknowingly covering contraceptives should disqualify one from accommodation
Again, the full text of the USCCB news release is at the end of this post. 1

The full text of the USCCB's comments, as submitted to America's national government, are online:

Steubenville Student Health Insurance Down

The "religious freedom problem" has already forced Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, to drop student health insurance:
I can see why the Franciscan University at Steubenville dropped their student health program. The Catholic Church insists that all human beings are people, regardless of age. "ObamaCare" says killing people who are under an arbitrary age limit is "health care."

Compared to a few decades back, I think more Americans realize that killing very young people is a bad idea. Understanding that using artificial contraceptives is a bad idea will probably take longer.

Messing With the Machinery

Please bear with me: this does relate to the HHS mandate, American subjects, and conscience.

I grew up in a nice mainstream Protestant household. By the time I met my wife, I had the culturally-normative attitude toward interfering with human sexuality. Before we married, I had to agree to a number of things, including a counter-cultural approach to sex. I thought not using artificial contraceptives was a silly idea.

Based on my experience with religious folks with strange ideas, I figured that after reading one of the important documents about human sexuality, I'd find that the Catholic Church's logic would have holes in it I could drive a semi through.

The Catholic Church, Sex, and Grudging Agreement

I read Humanae Vitae (English translation), cover-to-cover. More than once. Carefully.

I discovered that I had the option of giving up some assumptions about God, causality, and the nature of reality: or accept the Church's logic.

Since I wasn't willing to give up ideas like reality being real, I accepted what the Church said as being true. I had to admit, grudgingly, that my conclusions were, given my starting assumptions, illogical: and what the Church said was supported by reason.

Some time later, after a few more experiences like that, I decided that converting to Catholicism was my only reasonable option. Here's a link to Humanae Vitae (English translation), but remember what happened to me:

Counter-Cultural Ideas, Human Sexuality, and a 140-to-1 Compression Ratio

There's no way I'm going to succeed in reducing nearly 7,000 words of an encyclical letter to a pithy little saying. Since artificial contraceptives are so widely accepted though, and particularly since I remember my attitude, I'd better try.

Basically, the Catholic Church says that women are people, that human sexuality in the context of a marriage is a good idea: and that it's okay to have babies.

Another point, as I recall, is that marriage is supposed to involve sharing. When folks who are married refuse to share life - that messes up the marital bond. I realize how radically counter-cultural that is.

And remember, please, I've taken just over 50 words to describe almost 7,000. In a 140-to-1 compression ratio, something's going to get lost.
More posts about forcing Catholics to violate our conscience:
The Department of Health and Human Services vs. Conscience

Related posts:
1 Full text, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops news release of May 15, 2012:
"USCCB Submits Comments on Proposed HHS Rulemaking, Urges Re-Opening of Final Rule Defining Mandate, Exemption"
News release, USCCB (May 15, 2012)

"Religious employers and other stakeholders would still have their employee health insurance plans and premiums used for services they find morally objectionable, even under future government accommodations, according to comments submitted by the General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The May 15 comments outlined the continued objections of USCCB to the HHS 'preventive services' mandate and urged the administration to resolve these issues 'in favor of more, not less, religious freedom.'

" 'We believe that this mandate is unjust and unlawful - it is bad health policy, and because it entails an element of government coercion against conscience, it creates a religious freedom problem,' wrote Anthony Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary and general counsel, and Michael Moses, associate general counsel. 'These moral and legal problems are compounded by an extremely narrow exemption that intrusively and unlawfully carves up the religious community into those that are deemed "religious enough" for an exemption, and those that are not.'

"The comments were submitted in response to an HHS Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on preventive services, which expressed the administration's intention to propose additional regulations in order to establish alternative ways of ensuring contraceptive coverage for employees enrolled in health plans of religious organizations not exempted from the HHS mandate while still 'accommodating' such organizations.

"The USCCB comments noted that such an accommodation would only apply to some religious organizations and that it 'would still leave their premiums or plans (or both) as the source or conduit for the objectionable "services." But the use of premiums and plans for that purpose is precisely what is morally objectionable, and having an insurer or third party administer the payments does not overcome the moral objection." The comments concluded that, 'under the terms set out in the ANPRM, the "accommodation" cannot provide effective relief even for those few stakeholders that qualify for it.'

"The comments outlined six points:

"First, the ANPRM does not change the fact that contraceptive services are included in the list of mandated preventive services. This has remained unchanged from an earlier regulation announced in August 2011.

"Second, the ANPRM does not change the administration's criteria for defining 'religious employers' exempted from the mandate, an exemption that USCCB calls 'unprecedented in federal law, improperly narrow, and unlawful.' These criteria include that employers primarily hire and serve only members of their own religion.

"Third, many stakeholders in the health insurance process—religious and secular insurers, religious and secular for-profit employers, individual policy-holders, and others - with a conscientious objection to the mandate are completely ineligible for the exemption. The ANPRM does not acknowledge or address this problem, and as a result, those stakeholders 'will be required in the next few months either to drop out of the health insurance marketplace, potentially triggering crippling penalties, or to provide coverage that violates their deeply-held convictions.'

"Fourth, while the administration has invited public comment on some further 'accommodation' for certain non-exempt religious organizations, secular stakeholders will receive no such accommodation. 'We believe that the contraceptive mandate violates the religious and conscience rights of these stakeholders as well and is unlawful.'

"Fifth, regardless of the definition of 'religious organization,' the central problem remains, that 'conscientiously-objecting non-exempt religious organizations will still be required to provide plans that serve as a conduit for contraceptives and sterilization procedures to their own employees, and their premiums will help pay for those items.' The administration has invited comment on different approaches for how to deal with a self-insured employer, but 'none of them will solve the problems that the mandate creates for non-exempt religious organizations with a conscientious objection to contraceptive coverage.'

"Sixth, the ANPRM raises new questions such as whether employers must be independently exempt for their employees to participate in an exempt plan, whether religious objection to some, but not all, contraceptives should be accommodated and whether a past practice of mistakenly or unknowingly covering contraceptives should disqualify one from accommodation.

" 'In each case, we urge resolution of these questions in favor of more, not less, religious freedom,' Picarello and Moses wrote.

"The full text of the comments is available online: www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-on-advance-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-preventive-services-12-05-15.pdf"

2 comments:

Doug Indeap said...

Arguments about the health care law have gone from wrong to ridiculous. The law does not contravene the Constitution Nor does it force any employer to act contrary to his or her conscience.

Confronted by questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith, the courts have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning contracts, torts, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them.

When the legislature anticipates that application of such laws may put some individuals in moral binds, the legislature may, as a matter of grace (not constitutional compulsion), provide exemptions for conscientious objectors.

There is no need for an exemption here. While some, e.g., Catholic bishops, may well oppose the law’s policy of promoting the availability of medical services they find objectionable, the law does not put employers in the moral bind they suppose. Many initially worked themselves into a lather with the false idea that the law forces employers to provide their employees with health care plans offering services the employers consider immoral. Employers, though, have the option of not providing any such plans and instead simply paying assessments to the government. Unless one supposes that the employers’ religion forbids payments of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion), then the law’s requirement to pay assessments does not compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs. Problem solved.

Indeed, some have continued clamoring for such an exemption, complaining that by paying assessments to the government they would indirectly be paying for the very things they opposed. They seemingly missed that that is not a moral dilemma justifying an exemption to avoid being forced to act contrary to one’s beliefs, but rather is a gripe common to many taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action the government may take with the benefit of “their” tax dollars. Should each of us be exempted from paying our taxes so we aren’t thereby “forced” to pay for making war, providing health care, teaching evolution, or whatever else each of us may consider wrong or even immoral?

In any event, those complaining made enough of a stink that the government relented and announced that religious employers would be free to provide health plans with provisions to their liking (yay!) and not be required to pay the assessments otherwise required (yay!). Problem solved–again, even more.

Nonetheless, some continue to complain, fretting that somehow the services they dislike will get paid for and somehow they will be complicit in that. They argue that if insurers (or, by the same logic, anyone, e.g., employees) pay for such services, those costs will somehow, someday be passed on to the employers in the form of demands for higher insurance premiums or higher wages. They counter what they call the government’s “accounting gimmick” with one of their own: “religious dollars.” These dollars, it seems, can only be used to pay for things conforming to an employer’s religious beliefs even after the employer spends them and they thus become the property of others, e.g., insurers or employees. I can only wonder what proponents would think of their tag-the-dollar idea if they realized that I have loosed some “atheist dollars” into society, some of which have found their way into their wallets. Those dollars can be used only for ungodly purposes, lest I suffer the indignity of paying for things I disbelieve. If one lands in your hands, whatever you do, for god’s sake, don’t put it in the collection plate.

Brian Gill said...

Doug Indeap,

You clearly want to adhere to our leader's official line.

In the short term, that may be prudent.

In the long term, I prefer to deal with reality: not whatever the current establishment wants the rest of us to believe.

I do not doubt that you are sincere.

I am, however, convinced that you are mistaken.

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More

Advertisement

Unique, innovative candles


Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.