Here is the text of today’s truly horrible policy decision and implementation by HHS Sec. K. Sebelius, regarding mandatory inclusion of contraceptive services in employer provided health insurance policies. It deserves a good flensing; my emphases and comments:
In August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim final rule that will require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services [pregnancy is not a disease; defining these drugs and surgeries this way is logically and scientifically indefensible] for women including recommended contraceptive [again, their ideological definition that pregnancy begins at implantation therefore includes abortifacients among these contraceptives] services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible [!! because clearly it’s more just to make other people pay for these immoral actions]. The rule allows certain non-profit religious employers [must meet all three criteria for exemption: employ mostly same denomination, serve mostly same denomination, explicitly inculcate denomination’s religious values; these exclude all religious hospitals, nursing homes, and social charity organizations, and many schools, grammar to university; parishes properly speaking probably do meet the exemption, but that’s a tiny fraction of the people employed by the churches’ institutions] that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraceptive services. Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception. Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services. This rule is consistent with the laws in a majority of states which already require contraception coverage in health plans, and includes the exemption in the interim final rule allowing certain religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage. Beginning August 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover these services without cost sharing for women across the country.
After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule. Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule. We intend to require employers that do not offer coverage of contraceptive services to provide notice to employees, which will also state that contraceptive services are available at sites such as community health centers, public clinics, and hospitals with income-based support [So, even when HHS can’t force churches to pay for immoral procedures for others, they’ll still try to force the churches to support them by means of mandated public speech. This is supposed to be a choice that protects conscience??]. We will continue to work closely with religious groups during this transitional period to discuss their concerns [“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”].
Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families [If you don’t count the increased risk of breast cancer, or the mental health problems caused by abortion, or the millions of babies’ deaths as health concerns…], it is documented to significantly reduce health costs [The same self-serving and unscientific definitions at play here, of course.], and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing [Admirably Orwellian: forcing other people to pay for it, at no cost to oneself, is somehow not “cost sharing.”].
This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services [!! NB: “Pay and/or promote for your employees” is their idea of religious freedom.]. The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations [churches and institutions willing to compromise elements of faith give government policies like this moral cover; someone please remind me what they give the churches, again?], which promote healthy communities and serve the common good. And this final rule will have no impact on the protections that existing conscience laws [Apart from making us violate our conscience by paying for and/or promoting by mandated public speech these same immoral contraceptives and abortifacients] and regulations give to health care providers.
This is exactly what Pope Benedict was talking about in yesterday's address...