After losing in the Hobby Lobby v Burwell Supreme Court case earlier this summer, the Obama administration has just issued new rules for the notorious “HHS Mandate,” the Obamacare provision that requires all employee health plans to include free contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
This marks the eighth time the Obama administration has modified the HHS Mandate. Once again, they’re refusing to listen to the American people—or even the U.S. Supreme Court—and truly respect the employers’ conscience rights.
The new rules are nothing more than a slight variation of the so-called “accommodation” first announced in February 2012, whereby some “third party” will provide the objectionable services. I called that scheme a shell game at the time, and the description still fits. Others have called it an “accounting gimmick.”
All that’s changed is the paperwork involved in the process, which still requires employers to cooperate in providing contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans—or face annual fines up up to $36,500 per employee for refusing to go along.
The Family Research Council’s Arina Grossu explains the problem with the latest HHS Mandate rule well: “It is simply another clerical layer to an already existing accounting gimmick that does nothing to protect religious freedom because the employer still remains the legal gateway by which these drugs and services will be provided to their employees.”
The long drama over the HHS Mandate reminds me of the “sweet rolls” skit from the old PBS show, The Electric Company. Just like the goofy customer in the skit, the Obama administration keeps trying to change the wrong thing—as if the problem is the mechanism by which they force compliance with the HHS Mandate, rather than the fact that they’re trampling conscience rights in the first place.