HHS Horsepucky

Make no mistake, Dr. J. knows Catholic Doctrine regarding contraception as well as he understands the Quaker Peace Testimony. 

Gentle Readers,

Errant Catholic HHS Secretary and Useful Idiot Kathy Sebelius put forward so-called accommodations in the HHS mandate today in hopes that it would no longer be in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Dr. J. attempted to review the actual 80 page document but his eyes began to glaze over on page 18. So he started trolling the interwebz for translations, and found this handy dandy synopsis at CMS.

Feel free to skip over the self-congratulatory (Thanks to the [Un]Affordable Care Act…) and scientifically inaccurate (…there are TREMENDOUS health benefits for women that come from using contraception…) introduction and get to the meat of it.

The definition of religious employer has been broadened. This is a good thing, but despite this, if any American citizen is compelled by law to purchase a product that violates his religious beliefs, it is immoral and unconstitutional. So while less organizations (and organizations are people) are affected, all not-for-profits, for-profit businesses, and individuals should be free to choose what products they purchase and offer as benefits for their employees. Furthermore, insurance companies should be free to provide whatever products their consumers want, and not be forced to provide exclusively very expensive products that many consumers wouldn’t purchase unless at the point of a gun or unless it is heavily subsidized with money taken from other consumers at the point of a gun.

Second, self-identifying not-for-profit religious organizations do not have to directly contract, pay for, or refer employees for objectionable coverage.

Now this is where it gets dicey, so Dr. J. will let you read the HHS plan to money-launder contraceptives to contraceptastic employees:

With respect to insured group health plans, the eligible organization would provide the self-certification to the health insurance issuer, which in turn would automatically provide separate, individual market contraceptive coverage at no cost for plan participants. Issuers generally would find that providing such contraceptive coverage is cost neutral because they would be they would be insuring the same set of individuals under both policies and would experience lower costs from improvements in women’s health and fewer childbirths. 

With respect to self-insured group health plans, the eligible organization would notify the third party administrator, which in turn would automatically work with a health insurance issuer to provide separate, individual health insurance policies at no cost for participants. The costs of both the health insurance issuer and third party administrator would be offset by adjustments in Federally-facilitated Exchange user fees that insurers pay.

In other words for employers who buy insurance, the employer tells the insurance company that they’re exempt. The insurance company then offers individuals on that employers plan the opportunity to have a rider for contraception at no added cost to the employer, or employee. It should come out actuarially neutral according to the government, and therefore the insurance company offering it ‘for free.’ This sounds like a load of horsepucky, as it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘separate’ means.

For self-insured employers who use an insurance company to manage their funds, it works the same way but somehow in this case it isn’t cost neutral as the administrator has to talk to a separate insurance company for issuance of a free rider. Your private citizen tax dollars (via insurance exchange user fees) cover the cost. Just as a reminder the deadline for insurance exchanges has been extended, those aren’t up yet.

Where have I seen this business model before?

Oh yeah:

1) Issue riders & give out free OCPs, 2) ?, 3) Have neutral balance sheet

Oh, and by the way:

The Notice of Proposed Rule Making, aka the NPRM also proposes that an eligible religious non profit organization that is an institution of higher education that arranges for student health insurance coverage may avail itself of an accommodation comparable to that for an eligible organization that is an employer with an insured group health plan.

This means that the same shell game described above applies to Catholic university student health plans.

And for those who are enjoying the fruits of the HHS mandate, remember this, when the government or any other third party is springing for something as personal as your contraception, it has just as much of a right to decide what it’s providing for free. So as Mr. Brady said in ‘The Wheeler Dealer‘ episode, caveat emptor. What Sec. Sebelius giveth, Sec. Palin taketh away…

President Obama feels otherwise, as he says during this interview (go to the 2 minute mark):

Obama Defends HHS Mandate: It’s “Not Fair” That Catholics Won’t Fund Birth Control…

He feels that if you are a Catholic organization BUT employ a lot of non-Catholics, and likely receive a lot of Federal money, that the employee should be allowed to get free birth control from her insurance company even though the institution isn’t paying for it. That, however was a bald-faced lie, as the employer pays a majority of the woman’s premium.

Just to reiterate Dr. J.’s feelings on the issue. It is legal for an American to purchase contraception and have a sterilization procedure or an abortion. Forcing an individual to participate in the purchase of contraception, sterilization procedures or abortions is a violation of individual liberty as enumerated in the constitution. Furthermore, no individual, private business, or not-for-profit should be compelled to pay for contraception for any of its employees.

In addition, reproductive services are inexpensive because they are paid for out of pocket. Nothing is as expensive as it is once it’s free.

While Dr. J. prays for an end of the scourge of abortion, it will only come about as the hearts and minds  of our citizens soften and demand severe restrictions upon its use.

The fact that Planned Parenthood lauds this faux accommodation, while the Susan B. Anthony List does not should tell you all you need to know.

About Dr. J.

Dr. J. was born the son of a New Atlantean sharecropper who cornered the market on notoriously delicious seaweed Himanthalia elongata (popularly known as Thongweed). With his newly minted seaweed fortune, Mr. J. the Elder sent his son to attend the Academy of Sorcery, Alchemy and Surgery where the good doctor apprenticed with the finest sorcerer surgeons in New Atlantis. Dr. J.'s areas of expertise grew to include bleeding, cutting for stone, trephination, medical divination with outstanding spatial and temporal resolution, cybernetic sorcery and medicinal alchemy. When King Orin of Atlantis fell ill with the Ick, Dr. J. stepped in with an elixir he devised from a combination of minerals, herbs and saps. Curing the king, Dr. J. gained significant notoriety which afforded him the luxury of time to devote himself to his side hobbies which include porpoise racing, the study of supply-side economics, cooking and raising his lovely merchildren alongside his lovely bride the archconservative Mrs. Dr. J.