A large group of congressmen are unsatisfied with the Obama administration’s latest attempt to gloss over the Supreme Court’s strikedown of Obamacare’s controversial birth control mandate.
Fifty House Republicans — and one lonely Democrat, Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski — wrote to Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Burwell this week slamming the administration’s latest change to its religious accommodation for the mandate that all employers provide 20 forms of contraception at no cost to workers.
“The Administration has merely regurgitated and complicated an ‘accommodation’ process that has already been deemed insufficient,” the group, led by Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black, charged. “The government has taken it upon itself to determine what is morally acceptable to conscionable objectors.”
The birth control mandate was supposed to be a centerpiece of Obamacare, but the administration has been hard-pressed to actually get it right. When outrage erupted from religious employers who had moral objections to certain forms of birth control the Obama administration deemed essential, the federal government issued an accommodation which allowed only nonprofit religious employers to sign a document stating their objection and forcing their third-party insurers to provide contraceptives at no cost instead.
But the Supreme Court struck down the birth control mandate for ‘closely-held’ for-profit companies in July. Shortly after, the justices issued a controversial injunction to a Christian university, Wheaton College in Illinois (mere minutes from sole Democrat signatory Lipinski’s district), which allows them to refuse to provide contraceptives they oppose while their lawsuit is in court.
In response, the Obama administration announced yet another change to the rules in August. Now, religious employers will have to go through the exact same process, but with another bureaucratic layer: companies will have to inform the federal government of their objection. HHS will then inform third-party insurers that they’ll have to foot the bill. (RELATED: Obama Admin Backs Off Birth Control Mandate After Supreme Court Smackdown)
The new system is “hardly different from the prior process,” the group wrote. “This proposed accommodation has already been rejected by over 50 nonprofit charities…We remain deeply concerned that the Administration has again failed to simply exempt these nonprofits and businesses from the mandate.”
The group is asking HHS chief Burwell for details on how the proposed accommodation will work and who exactly it will apply to. The Supreme Court ruled that only “closely-held for-profit” companies are exempt from the onerous birth control mandate, but the Obama administration is faced with defining who exactly that is.