Obama Administration Changes Religious Accommodation
August 26, 2014
Many religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations have objected to the Affordable Care Act's requirement that they provide insurance that covers contraceptives that serve as abortifacients. As an accommodation to these groups, the Obama administration allowed them to sign a waiver certifying their objections to the mandate and transferring the obligation to provide contraception coverage to their insurer.
This accommodation was met with criticism from faith-based organizations, who contended that the waiver process made them complicit in providing services that they found morally objectionable. A number of organizations sued the administration as a result.
In response to these lawsuits, President Obama has proposed a new rule to deal with objectors' problems with the accommodation. According to the Washington Times, affected employers can instead write to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), explaining their objections to the mandate. At that point, HHS would contact insurers to provide coverage to organizations' employees, without involving them directly.
Those objecting to the mandate were not mollified by the new standard. According to Arina Grossu of the Family Research Council, "This new proposed rule maintains the threat of crippling fines on nonprofits who stand up for their freedom of conscience. What remains an insulting accounting gimmick does not protect the rights of Americans with sincere conscientious objections."
Source: Tom Howell, "Obama admin. forges new ways for objecting employers to cope with contraception mandate," Washington Times, August 22, 2014.
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