The following information was sent to all Catholic Medical Association members. If you do not belong to the CMA maybe you should. We have a battle to fight.
Marci Moffitt, MD
President, Catholic Medical Association
The HHS Mandate: What's Next?
The hope that the HHS mandate could be eliminated with one decisive Supreme Court ruling against Obamacare has been dashed. So what’s next? Here are a few reflections and resources for CMA members.
The lawsuits against HHS and the mandate are continuing. Probably the single best place to learn more and monitor progress is at the Becket Fund’s website,www.becketfund.org/hhsinformationcentralThere are 23 lawsuits filed in 7 of the 9 federal circuit courts. Two have been dismissed so far on procedural grounds. But on Friday, July 27, a Colorado federal district court judge granted a Friday on behalf of Hercules Industries (for more details, see story below left). More injunctions could come in the next few days. The Obama administration should put the law on hold while the courts sort through the issues, but in all likelihood will not be granted a preliminary injunction.
This means that CMA members should prepare for the reality that the mandate will take effect on August 1, 2012. Here are some resources for action steps until a court decision or the November elections help to end the mandate.
Legal Issues --CMA members should determine how they are likely to be affected and seek legal help if necessary. Everyone should learn when the provisions of the HHS mandate will become effective for them. While the mandate takes effect on August 1, 2012, it affects health insurance plans only at the time that a new plan year starts after that date. So, if a plan year starts on January 1, for example, then the HHS mandate would take effect for that plan on January 1, 2013. However, there are other issues to consider, including whether to make any other changes in health insurance benefits and how to communicate about such changes. , from the law firm Gammon & Grange, helps to outline some of these issues. Members may want to seek additional legal advice.This important and helpful resource
Moral Issues --Catholics should not comply with this unjust mandate. As Raymond Cardinal Burke noted in an April 10, 2012, interview, because an employer must knowingly and deliberately decide to provide these illicit services to their employees, this constitutes formal cooperation in evil. What the Obama administration is mandating is arguably worse than the Roman emperors demanding that Christians offer a sacrifice to them as gods. In the latter case, the demand was for a token public expression. In the case of the mandate, Catholics are being forced to participate in moral evil that causes significant harms to the well-being of women (physically and spiritually), marriages, and families. Christians then refused to compromise, even in a token way. Employers now should do no less. What employees can do in this situation is not as clear. However, those receiving mandate-compliant insurance plans should be aware that the full range of reproductive services benefits will be made available to their dependents.
Practical Issues--If something doesn’t happen soon, Catholics may have to rapidly separate themselves from traditional health insurance. Many health-care expenses can be met through direct payment, but what about catastrophic risks? (which differ from traditional health-care insurance with defined services and benefits) which can help people to pay large medical bills. All three are exempt from the mandates governing health insurance under Obamacare. There are three Christian (albeit not Catholic) organizations that offer health-care cost-sharing arrangements. For more information, go to www.healthcaresharing.org.
Action Steps--Apart from the important steps above, there are a couple of key action steps that all Americans -- and in particular, members of the CMA -- should be taking at this time. Never has it been so important for American citizens to fulfill their civic responsibilities of making their views known to their elected representatives and getting involved in the election process. Here are 3 key steps:
- Contact your federal representatives (congressional representative and senators) immediately via telephone, email, or fax and tell them that you want Congress to take action to protect religious liberty. The single most important step is for both houses of Congress to hold a vote on the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act -- H.R. 1179in the House and S. 1467in the Senate. By clicking the bill links provided, you can find out whether your representatives have co-sponsored the bill. If they have not, urge to do so! Also urge House leadership to schedule a vote on H.R. 1179.
- During the August congressional recess, find an opportunity to speak personally with your representatives and urge them verbally to take action on religious liberty and make your views known about the HHS mandate specifically.
Prepare to get involved in the 2012 elections NOW. While at a minimum it is necessary to be registered and to vote yourself, it is essential that more people get involved in all aspects of the election, from get-out-the-vote efforts to volunteering at polling places. As Fr. George Rutler has said, this might be the last free election in America. We should make it count.