The Catholic Voices Blog
The presidential debate and the HHS mandate
If you all you knew about the issue was what you heard at last night's debate, you'd have trouble figuring out what all the fuss is about the HHS mandate. The President said:
You know a major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health-care choices that women are making. I think that’s a mistake. In my health-care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured.
That's backwards. It's the President's Affordable Care Act that has "politicians in Washington decid[ing] the health care choices that women are making." Under that law's HHS mandate, women can only purchase coverage that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs -- even if they have moral objections to such coverage, or don't think their religious employers should be forced to provide it against their most deeply held beliefs. And don't forget about the abortion coverage mandate that's also part of the ACA. As Helen Alvare points out:
Polls show that most women don't want abortion in their health coverage (68 percent, according to a poll taken in fall 2009, as the health care debate began)....In the new health care exchanges, the new national health care law states that insurance companies "shall determine whether or not the plan provides coverage" of elective abortions. There is no role for the women being covered. Once an insurer decides to cover abortions, it is required to "collect from each enrollee in the plan ... a separate payment" for abortion, beyond the regular premium. ¤1303 (b)(2)(B)(i). In short, the federal government now forbids an opt-out from abortion coverage.
Last night Governor Romney missed an opportunity to highlight the importance of religious liberty and the degree to which it's threatened by the HHS mandate. Hopefully he'll do just that tomorrow night when he attends the Al Smith Dinner with President Obama at the invitation of New York's Cardinal Dolan.