Monday, January 30, 2012

The HHS Mandate: Now it's personal.

As I was reading our Bishop's letter contained in our church bulletin, strongly urging people to protest the HHS edict which demands that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. No religious exceptions allowed.

It suddenly occurred to me.

We're Catholic employers. Tom and I. In our little company.


Here I was taking on the fight for the Church and then I realized that ... duh ... we are the Church. So I've got to go to my insurance agent and talk about this problem. We're a tiny business and although we don't have to provide insurance for our employees we do anyway. It's the whole "treat them like you'd want to be treated" way to live the faith.

Except now maybe we can't without violating our consciences.

Think of the irony. One of our employees is a steadfast Democrat and, I think, an atheist. And he's our best guy and has worked for us for quite a while. If I have to do a work around on his insurance ... it will be the first time that the government has forced us to raise religion in our workplace. Nice going, Mr. O.

Frank, at Why I Am Catholic, with impeccable timing, has begun a petition at We the People. You have to register but you can leave the zip code part blank if you like. You can view and sign the petition here.

I also will be writing to President Obama, Kathleen Sebelaius, and my political representatives telling them that I don't appreciate them getting their government all over my religion. The Catholic bishops have info further explaining the HHS mandate, with links for writing.

It's Not Just for Catholics
Remember, this isn't just a Catholic fight. There are other faiths and personal philosophies that don't approve of abortion and certainly don't approve of the government stepping on religious freedom this way.

Speak up. It's the only way they'll get the message.

Conversation and Observations
In the course of a couple of email conversations with pals about this mandate, I mentioned that President Obama's group didn't think this through very well if it was going to suck in little companies like ours. A friend responded:
Julie, don't kid yourself. it's VERY well thought out. They could have glommed onto an exemption idea such as works in Hawaii, where employers have to notify employees by mail that they won't offer coverage for contraception and the worker can purchase a rider to the insurance on their own. They said they didn't have the AUTHORITY to work that exemption in. But they have the authority to overstep the constitution.

This was deliberately done, and meant to provoke a war.
I mentioned that I didn't think they meant for individual employers (Catholics, Mormons, whatever) to begin opting out. I thought they just went after the big guys ...

Because we will opt out. Although it may be a bloodless martyrdom. My pal's response.
Yes, it's going to force Catholics who offer insurance, like you and Tom, and who do it out of the goodness of your hearts and because you're interested in justice, to stop offering insurance. Which will force people to go on the government rolls, which is what Obama has wanted from the start. It puts believers of all stripes between the rock and the hard place and forces their hands -- he benefits.
Food for thought. And definitely when the rubber meets the road.

Other Responses
The Curt Jester has a round-up of "muscular episcopate statements" and his own thoughts. Some I'd seen, some I hadn't. My favorite is Bishop Zubik of Pittsburgh:
The Obama administration has just told the Catholics of the United States, “To Hell with you!” There is no other way to put it.”


  1. Do you exclude contraception now? Back in the late 80s, when I worked for a group health insurance company, the only contract where they didn't cover contraception or abortion was the Catholic hospital.

    For small groups - under 50 employees - there was no flexibility in the plan design except you could decline prescription drug coverage.

    You could also decline maternity coverage for the entire group. One employer didn't want maternity coverage for his unmarried female employees, but he couldn't do it that way: unmarried women have been known to get pregnant!

    PS There were employers who wanted to exclude coverage for AIDS and my employer refused to do it. Refused to exclude it, that is. Grossly immoral to tell someone you're not going to cover his disease just because you don't like that disease!

  2. Tried to sign the petition, but oh dear, the section is under maintenance. Must go back later.

  3. I really hope we Catholics send a message come November. But to be honest, most Catholics are political wimps. Even with all the Bishops in an uproar, I get the feeling Catholics are going to bend over for this president. It would be a disgrace if we did.

  4. 1000 new signatures since I signed. That's about three or four hours...?

    This whole situation scares me. I know Catholics have been persecuted. I know God is with us. But I'm still scared and having trouble leaving it in God's hands.

    (My word verification is "gogricat," which sounds like a political party that drinks sweet alcoholic beverages...)

  5. Class raises a good point. Insurance companies have provided this before President Obama.

    For many years the Republican party covered abortions for employees.

    My objection is for any coverage of fertility treatments that result in the death of "surplus" human embryos.

  6. Will RT on Twitter (actually I think I already did, but will again with link to your blog) @LadyAnnaKasper

  7. the only contract where they didn't cover contraception or abortion was the Catholic hospital.

    I mean the Catholic hospital where my company provided the health insurance for the employees.

  8. This also affects Catholic schools, in particular the one where my child attends. It's staffed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (aka 'Nashville Dominicans') and our principal (a very feisty, no-nonsense and very young Sister)told us 'we cannot and WILL NOT comply' that means in a year's time if this mandate isn't pulled back, that our school (and all the Dominican run schools) will close! Catholics, in particular need to realize the implications and DO SOMETHING about it. Sign petitions, and write letters. I also am a Catholic small business owner and i will run my business with NO employees down the road if i have to. I will not be forced to go against my conscience by a tyrannical government!

  9. If you have fewer than 50 employees, you aren't covered by the insurance mandate at all.

    cjmr (in case OpenID isn't working today)

  10. You are quite right and I commented upon that fact here.

    Whether we have less or more than 50, we still should be mindful of our duties as Catholics who employee people. Etc. So it's kind of a wake up call. :-)