Obamacare Contraception Mandate Woes Continue
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) The ACA's contraception mandate has become a fire that the Obama administration just can't seem to put out.
The latest iteration of this debate comes from a proposed rule put out last Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services. In response to June's 5-4 decision in Hobby Lobby , the administration will allow for-profit companies an exception to the contraception mandate (allowing them to provide insurance plans that don't cover birth control). A company instead will have to file a form declaring a faith-based objection to the law. Once that's done, its employees will qualify for free birth control paid for and provided directly by the insurer.
Unfortunately for the administration, this probably won't make anyone any happier. How do we know? For starters, another version of this rule has already drawn a challenge.
This regulation is modeled after the existing accommodation for faith-based nonprofits, who generally don't like it. The Christian school Wheaton College has filed suit in the Supreme Court over enforcement of this provision, arguing that filling out the EBSA 700 form still "[makes] it complicit in the provision of contraceptives by triggering the obligation for someone else to provide the services to which it objects." In other words, they still remain a but-for cause of birth control. Since both nonprofits and for-profits have objected to the contraception mandate on the same religious grounds, it's pretty unlikely that private companies will see things differently.
After all, recall that none of these groups have ever been forced to directly provide birth control. They object to a relationship which results in birth control, to being a link in the paper chain of sin as it were. Some also likely object to the fact that women can get contraception in the first place, and just now have a stage on which to argue. The fact that an EBSA 700 takes less than five minutes to complete misses the point. (It asks for only the group's name, registered address, relevant manager and someone's signature.) The symbolism of the act, as well as what it leads to, is in and of itself the sin.
What do these employers want instead? Something that they probably won't get. They want the same treatment that purely religious groups such as churches receive: the right to opt out of contraception on behalf of their employees altogether. The women wouldn't get birth control, but that's ultimately the point. As long as we use an employer health care model, the employer will always remain a triggering agent for contraception no matter how far removed. Even if the government waives the forms altogether, a female employee will still get birth control because of the employer's relationship with its insurance company.