Sex-crazed Christians have gotten a capitulation from the Obama administration on birth control coverage. For heaven’s sake, don’t go to work for Christian Scientists, you won’t get any health insurance at all! Charlie Pierce:
In case you haven’t noticed, and as we’ll discuss at length later, the president’s approval rating has ticked upwards considerably since he was sworn in again. This, despite the fact the the entire Middle East seems to be up for grabs and the economy still has one wheel stuck in the ditch, and Republicans are jacking around with his nominees for practically everything. So, naturally, it is time for the administration to get magnanimous and reach out a compromising hand to people who eat phalanges on toast for breakfast. And the ladyparts of Presbyterian charpersons get sold down the river again.
Whatever you may thing of the compromises that were necessary to get the Affordable Care Act passed, the very nature of them, and the sheer number of them, has produced a mechanism uniquely vulnerable to political sabotage. This extended hissy fit is a very good example. The president made one compromise before he was re-elected, even though he didn’t have to, and then he got re-elected with a whopping gender gap because he stood up for the right of ladies to manage their own ladyparts free from Bible-banging interference. Now, with absolutely nothing to lose, we have another compromise, this one open to all sorts of new mischief no matter how often we are told that the new deal merely “simplifies” the problem and brings the act into more complete compliance with IRS guidelines. This, of course, presumes there was a “problem” to begin with, and not just an ensemble hissy fit among meddling clerics and theocratic pests.
The big change would be that “a house of worship would not be excluded from the exemption because, for example, it provides charitable social services to persons of different religious faiths or employs persons of different religious faiths,” according to the fact sheet. According to HHS, the change is meant to codify the intent of last year’s rules, and is not expected to “expand the universe of employer plans that would qualify for the exemption.”
Except, of course, that it will expand that universe in practice rather dramatically. It certainly seems to expand the universe of “religiously affiliated organizations,” at least for the purposes of denying contraceptive coverage. More to the point, the individual consciences of the employees — our Presbyterian charpersons — are not accounted for at all. What we have here are regulations that codify the primacy of the employer’s conscience over the consciences of the people who work for him, especially when we consider the institutions under discussion here.