Obamacare Compromises Catholic Universities

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The president’s “compromise” on regulations connected with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has impressed academics but not anyone who knows anything about how insurance works. “Instead, for nonexempt religious institutions the president made two promises,” Asma T. Uddin, an attorney with the Beckett Fund, points out in an article which appeared in the May/June issue of Liberty magazine. “First, enforcement of the mandate would be delayed by a year so that they could get their houses in order to comply with the mandate.”

“And second, the president promised that in a rule yet to be developed, insurance companies—not the religious employers themselves—would be forced to pay for the abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception.”

Meanwhile, in an article which also appeared in the May/June Liberty issue, two law professors from the University of California at Davis—Vikram David Amar and Adam Brownstein—write that “The compromise resonates with two  of the principles we advocate:

“(1) it reduces state interference with the ability of religious institutions to follow the dictates of their faith, and

“(2) it mitigates and spreads the cost of the accommodation so that they do not fall exclusively on women who are employed by exempt religious institutions.”

“First, it is unlikely that insurance companies will offer these services for free; religious employers would still ultimately be paying for these services against their conscience, with the costs spread through higher insurance premiums for their employees,” Uddin avers.

They could “drop health insurance coverage for their employees altogether and incur a hefty fine,” Uddin notes. How hefty? “For example, a charitable organization with 100 employees will have to pay the federal government $140,000 per year for the ‘privilege’ of not underwriting medical services it believes are immoral,” Uddin claims. It is worth noting that, even against that backdrop, some colleges and universities, such as Ave Maria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville, are going that route.

It should be mentioned that Amar and Brownstein support a religious exemption from the mandate, albeit with a caveat: “We see no material difference between alternative service for those  who are exempt from military service for religious reasons and alternative expenditures for public service for public services by religious institutions that are exempt from costly regulator mandates on religious liberty grounds,” they assert.

They propose that , “As a condition for receiving an exemption from the HHS contraceptive services mandate, religious organizations should agree to dedicate whatever funds they save from not having to provide the otherwise-required contraception coverage to some other public service, identified by the government, that is consistent with their beliefs.”

Apparently, it never dawns on these legal scholars that the government officials likely to choose “some other public service, identified by the government, that is consistent with their beliefs,”  are the very bigwigs who concocted the mandate to begin with. Moreover, either way, universities affiliated with the Mother Church effectively have the choice of being Catholic in name only or tax-exempt in name only.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.


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