As I said on Twitter, the Obama’s administration’s ridiculous fight against the ministerial exemption — a fight they lost 9-0 in the Supreme Court — suddenly make sense:
The Obama administration announced today it will wait for a year (coincidentally until after the elections) before requiring religious organizations to comply with an Obamacare mandate that they provide coverage for contraception — including controversial drugs that can abort an early pregnancy.
This started with a decision by the Obama administration last summer listing the “preventive” services that must be covered by health plans under Obamacare without charge to patients, and the list included contraception.
Look, I’m pro-birth-control. I believe in comprehensive sex education and subsidies for poor people (although birth control is not really that expensive). I believe colleges and universities should make birth control available for their students. I’m so pro-birth control, I wear a condom when I blog.
But there is some daylight between that position and thinking government should force religious institutions to cover birth control (which basically means providing it). In the first paradigm, you are increasing people’s choices and freedom. In the second, you are decreasing it, forcing people to spend money for things that they may morally object to.
Although I think National Review has a point on this being on attack on religious freedom, I don’t think this is “war on religion”, per se, despite Newt’s ranting on the subject. It’s more of a war for religion — the secular religion of statism; the belief that government knows best. It started about a decade ago, when Bush’s faith-based initiatives forced religious charities to put more money into drug treatment than they wanted to. It has continued with the fight over gay adoption, in which Catholic charities have ended adoption services rather than let gays adopt children. This is simply the next step: forcing religious institutions to provide birth control.
As I said when this issue first cropped up, the issue is simple: this is giving too much power to government. Making birth control available is sensible. But forcing employers to pay for it — for people who are insured and can likely afford it on their own — is simply a bridge too far.
Think of the precedent. If a Democratic President can force institutions to pay for services with which they have a moral qualm, where does it end? Can they force them to pay for stomach stapling? Can they force them cover stem cell treatments? What about sterilizing people who we decide shouldn’t reproduce — an idea that surface every few decades?
Think of what this means for the insurance paradigm: If a Democratic President can decree that all insurance will cover birth control why can’t a future Republican President decree that none will cover abortion? Once you inject government into these decisions, you have opened a can of worms.
Now this is supposed to save us money. But first of all, who died and made government God? (Answer: the Constitution). Even assuming birth control would decrease healthcare costs — and let’s put a pin in that — who is government to tell me I have to take the cheaper option? For some of these religious institutions, they would rather take on the higher insurance cost. Who are you to tell them how they may or may not spend their money? Birth control is a great idea; it’s not a fundamental right. This isn’t free speech were talking about.
Now, about saving money. Preventative care may save lives but it does not save money. Birth control may save parents money but it does not necessarily save their employers money. And to be told how to save money by … stop that laughing back there! … the government is asburd. Just take a look at this:
In the past two decades, Medicare’s administrators have conducted demonstrations to test two broad approaches to enhancing the quality of health care and improving the efficiency of health care delivery in Medicare’s fee-for-service program. Disease management and care coordination demonstrations have sought to improve the quality of care of beneficiaries with chronic illnesses and those whose health care is expected to be particularly costly. Value-based payment demonstrations have given health care providers financial incentives to improve the quality and efficiency of care rather than payments based strictly on the volume and intensity of services delivered.
In an issue brief released today, CBO reviewed the outcomes of 10 major demonstrations—6 in the first category and 4 in the second—that have been evaluated by independent researchers. CBO finds that most programs tested in those demonstrations have not reduced federal spending on Medicare.
That’s ten failures. You would expect one of those programs to have worked just by accident. But none have. And these are the guys we are going to listen to about controlling healthcare costs? These are the guys we want telling religious institutions what they shall and shall not pay for?