by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Some congressional leaders are looking at changing a part of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” that requires members of Congress and their staff to get their health insurance from the new health care exchanges. Leaders from both parties have been in talks about making the change. Aware that they could be considered hypocrites for making the change, those meetings were in private. With the revelation of those secret meetings by Politico’s John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman, those congressional leaders now appear to be backing away from the idea.
The requirement that all members of Congress and their staff get their health coverage through the exchanges was an odd quirk in the law from the beginning. The ACA requires most Americans to obtain health insurance (the individual mandate).
It expands the availability of coverage by expanding Medicaid eligibility and requiring large employers to provide coverage to their employees. The state-level health care exchanges were set up for those who are not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare and do not get their coverage from their employer, either because the employer is small and not required to provide coverage, or the employer is large and decided to pay the fine (or tax) rather than provide coverage.
As The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein explains it, requiring federal employees to get coverage through the exchanges was intended to be a “gotcha” moment by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) during debates over the law’s passage. Grassley’s proposal was more of a message, essentially saying – if Democrats think this law is such a good idea, then let them have the same coverage. Rather than be embarrassed by the ploy, Democrats decided to go along with the idea and the proposal was added to the bill. Grassley originally wanted all federal employees to go on the exchanges. That was narrowed to members of Congress and their staff.
One concern of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who first raised the issue, and other members of Congress who want the requirement changed, is that the coverage will be too costly for low-level staffers, some of whom make as little as $25,000 per year.
This may not be an issue, though. The Congressional Research Service has said that the government can contribute to the premium costs of Hill staffers. The final ruling on that, though, will have to be made by the Office of Personnel Management. If the OPM agrees with the CRS, a legislative fix will not be necessary. In a Thursday statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office said a legislative fix is not necessary.
“Senator Reid is committed to ensuring that all members of Congress and Congressional staff experience the benefits of the Affordable Care Act in exactly the same way as every other American. He believes that this is the effect of the legislation as written, and that therefore no legislative fix is necessary.
There are not now, have never been, nor will there ever be any discussions about exempting members of Congress or Congressional staff from Affordable Care Act provisions that apply to any employees of any other public or private employer offering health care,” the statement said.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—After facing opposition from religious institutions concerning the requirement for such organizations to provide contraception coverage to their employees, Barack Obama is offering a revised version of the health care provision, that would exempt faith-based organizations from paying for such services, but employees could get it under separate coverage paid for directly by insurance companies.
“Today, the Obama Administration moved forward to continue to implement provisions in the health care law that would provide women contraceptive coverage without cost sharing, while taking into account religious objections to contraceptive services by certain religious organizations. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) released today reflects the public feedback from comments on the Advance NPRM issued in March 2012,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement on its Web site.
Previously, the exemption had a very limited scope in the way it defined religious employers or organizations as we published in this Jan 31. article.
Today, according to revised definition, religious employers include: “Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches and the exclusively religious activities of any religious order.”
The provision in Obamacare that has been causing a stir, requires most employers to provide coverage for contraceptives, including the morning-after pill, to employees who wish to consume such products.
Religious leaders have said they are still studying the new revised clause, while other small business owners say the provision should not be extended to just “non-profits” but also to “for-profit” small business owners whose religious faith is in conflict with the Affordable Care Act contraceptive provision.
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—There will be a religious exemption to the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (2010), better known as “Obamacare,” according to a fact sheet released Wednesday by the Internal Revenue Service. (pop-up)
The religious exemption rule for the individual mandate was included in a set of new rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the implementation of the new health care law.
Only those who are members of a religious sect that is already recognized by the Social Security Administration as exempt from Social Security requirements will be eligible for an exemption from the individual mandate. These sects mostly include the Amish and some other Mennonite sects.
There has been an internet rumor that Muslims would be exempt as well, but Muslims are not exempt from participating in Social Security so they would not be eligible for an individual mandate exemption.
Those who want the religious exemption will be required to go to a “Health Insurance Marketplace,” which will be set up by HHS or a state government, and apply for the exemption. Those who are under 18 will have to reapply for the exemption after they turn 18.
Exemptions will also be provided for members of federally recognized Indian tribes, members of a recognized health care sharing ministry, those whose income is so low they were not required to file an income tax return, those who would have to pay more than eight percent of household income for the cheapest premium, those who are in jail, and those who have a certified hardship that makes them unable to obtain coverage.
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON D.C.—A federal appeals court on Tuesday sided with Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College in a decision related to the ongoing court challenges to the Obama administration’s birth control mandate. The court said it would hold the Obama administration to its promise to never implement the current birth control mandate and to create a new rule by August, as part of the court decision.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to give it updates every 60 days, beginning in February, until a new rule is issued in August. The lawsuits will be held in abeyance until that time.
“There will, the government said, be a different rule for entities like the appellants,” the court wrote, “and we take that as a binding commitment. The government further represented that it would publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the new rule in the first quarter of 2013 and would issue a new Final Rule before August 2013. We take the government at its word and will hold it to it.”
Sebelius first issued the rule in January. As part of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” she ruled that employers must cover contraception, sterilization and some abortifacient drugs in their health care insurance for employees. There is a religious exemption, but the exemption is so narrow that most religious employers, including religious schools, are not exempt. There have been about 40 lawsuits related to the mandate.
Barack Obama has promised to make an accommodation for religious employers, but the only accommodation, thus far, has been a grace period for some religious employers before they will be bound by the mandate.
“The D.C. Circuit has now made it clear that government promises and press conferences are not enough to protect religious freedom,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who argued the case. “The court is not going to let the government slide by on non-binding promises to fix the problem down the road.”
Duncan believes the decision is a major victory for opponents of the mandate because HHS is now bound by the court to never implement the mandate in its current form.
“This is a win not just for Belmont Abbey and Wheaton, but for all religious nonprofits challenging the mandate,” added Duncan. “The government has now been forced to promise that it will never enforce the current mandate against religious employers like Wheaton and Belmont Abbey and a federal appellate court will hold the government to its word.”
Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had an assignment to accomplish in the first four years, which was to thrust Obamacare upon Americans. To accomplish the assignment, she did, but many states have no plans of implementing it, since most are run by Republican governors—the most vocal critic of Obamacare being Texas Governor Rick Perry.
The governor has already made it clear that Texas will not participate in the health care law, and in a defiant letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, sent three weeks ago, Perry pretty much, euphemistically, told Sebelius where to shove Obamacare.
Perry ended the brief letter by saying: “Our state will not be party to helping facilitate the Taxation of millions of Texans, at an unknown cost, to implement bad public policy.” Click here to read or download Rick Perry’s letter.
Remember, the key to facilitating a log with private information of all Americans is through a centralized database. The insurance companies that wrote Obamacare, suggested a health care database. That is Obama’s assignment for his second term by the globalists who financed his campaign.
The ultimate end game is to usher in a system containing everyone’s private information, that can be stored on a card containing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip.
In his USA Today article, Stephen T. Parente is a finance professor at the University of Minnesota writes: “Similar information is collected when you apply for a mortgage. But when the constantly updated information is combined in a central data hub, the potential for abuse is staggering. For one thing, the hub will have all the details needed to steal identities and fraudulently access credit.”
In his most recent interview with Forbes, Gov. Perry said about Obamacare, “Well, I’m not sure Obamacare is going to be successful. And one of the reasons I’m not sure it’s going to be successful is because the exchanges are not going to work. And the exchanges are not going to work because states are wise enough not to go into a relationship when you don’t know what the rules are…so on its face, Obamacare may fail because they don’t have the expertise nor the money.”
As a hint that a second presidential bid in 2016 has not been ruled out, Rick Perry concluded the interview by saying, “So I think that the message in 2016 is going to be, “Look at what people who truly have the responsibility for delivering services, whether it’s education or transportation infrastructure, or power, or health care. Who are the people that are really doing it? And who are the people that are being successful?” And the message in 2016 is going to be, “It’s Republican governors that are truly making America work better, health care being in one of those areas.”
by Michael Gryboski
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—Two religiously-affiliated academic institutions have filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services over its controversial “preventative services” mandate.
East Texas Baptist University (ETBU) and Houston Baptist University (HBU) filed the suit on Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Dr. John Mark Reynolds, provost at HBU, told The Christian Post that while the Baptist General Convention of Texas does not have a position on contraception, the suit goes beyond that issue.
“Baptists know that when another brother or sister Christian’s religious freedom is transgressed by the state, no citizens are free. It isn’t a ‘Catholic’ issue when religious freedom is transgressed: it is an American issue,” said Reynolds.
“If the state can force Catholic charities to transgress their conscience, then the government is on a path to destroy the first freedom: freedom of religion.”
Dr. Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, president of ETBU, told The Christian Post that his university “cannot, in good conscience, comply with the HHS mandate” and that the decision to sue was not “taken lightly.”
“We believe that the federal government is obligated by the First Amendment to accommodate the religious convictions of faith-based organizations of all kinds, Catholic and non-Catholic,” said Oliver.
The two Baptist institutions are represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. According to the Becket Fund, at present there are a total of 33 different ongoing suits against HHS over the mandate. In January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that religious charities would not be exempted from having to provide contraception services in their employee health insurance plans.
With the announcement came a backlash by many religious groups, especially Roman Catholic organizations who opposed having to provide services that went contrary to their beliefs. In February, President Barack Obama delivered a message stating that the mandate would be modified so that the insurance companies for religious organizations would directly cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization if the religious organization had objections to providing such services.
Erin Shields of the HHS Office of the Secretary told The Christian Post that the department could not comment on pending litigation. Shields did provide a fact sheet outlining the February compromise.
According to the fact sheet, “Religious organizations will not be required to subsidize the cost of contraception,” “Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception,” and “churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations from covering contraception on the basis of their religious objections” will be
exempted. HBU said, “The lawsuit is not about the legality of contraception or whether organizations can choose to pay for those services, but about the state forcing religious groups to pay for things that damage their mission.
“It is about whether the government will force religious people and organizations to do something they believe is wrong. Good people everywhere want women to have access to quality health care.”
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—Democratic strategist James Carville was one of the architects of Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992 and has played a key role in party politics for the last 20 years. Now Carville is saying if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns parts of Obamacare, the Democrats may well benefit in the November elections.
“I think that this will be the best thing that ever happened to the Democratic Party because health care costs are gonna escalate unbelievably,” said Carville Tuesday on CNN’s Situation Room. “I honestly believe this, this is not spin.”
Carville was referring to the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act that came under scrutiny this week when Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments on the provision that mandates that individuals buy health care insurance.
“You know what the Democrats are going to say, and it is completely justified, ‘We tried, we did something, go see a 5-4 Supreme Court majority.’ Then the Republican Party will own the health care system for the foreseeable future.”
Erik Erikson of RedState.com took issue with Carville’s comments by saying if the Supreme Court overruled parts of the act that they would be speaking on behalf of millions who don’t agree with the rigorous mandates.
“Both sides, not just the Democrat side, even if the laws were upheld or struck down, there is a 5-4 conservative majority, and historically you see Republicans picking justices who have a greater propensity to gravitate to the left than you see Democrat judges propensity to gravitate to the right,” said Erikson in response to Carville. “This will be an undercurrent issue for both sides, though.”
The Supreme Court will most likely decide the issue sometime this summer as lower courts have both upheld and struck down President Obama’s prized health care plan.
Newscast Media DALLAS, Texas — Don’t count on it. Social issues will also figure prominently in the coming months. President Obama has made sure of that.
The most obvious example involves the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rule mandating that religious organizations provide health insurance that covers sterilization, contraception and drugs that induce abortion. Only the most zealous pro-choicers think people should be forced to fund abortions, even when they have moral objections to them. Not surprisingly, the mandate has sparked uproar.
In response, the president has now offered a “compromise.” Instead of employers paying directly for services to which they are morally opposed, HHS will mandate that their insurance carriers provide them “free of charge.”
Birth control pills, IUDS, and abortion-inducing drugs aren’t free, however, so the insurance companies will offset these costs with higher premiums (even though the mandate will supposedly prohibit this). This accounting gimmick does nothing to resolve the moral problem. The New York Times admitted as much in its headline, “Rule Shift is Concession to Obama Allies,” not, in other words, to opponents.
The President may have provided cover for a few allies on the religious left, such as Sister Carol Keehan, but the US Bishops aren’t buying it. In fact, rather than divide Christians over contraception, Mr. Obama has helped unify orthodox Catholics, evangelicals, and even many civil libertarians. They rightly see the HHS mandate as an attack on religious freedom. ObamaCare was already an affront to freedom itself. Now it has a sharp anti-religious edge to boot.
Forced coverage for abortion drugs? Check. Attack on religious freedom? Check. For the culture war trifecta, all we need is an attack on marriage. In 1996, President Clinton signed the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It protects states from being forced to recognize same sex “marriages” performed in other states.
President Obama claimed before he was elected that, as a Christian, he believed marriage was between a man and a woman. As soon as he took office, though, we learned that his view is “constantly evolving.” It evolved fast, since the Justice Department has refused to defend DOMA in court, and Attorney General Eric Holder has denounced DOMA as unconstitutional and irrational.
Since most Americans think marriage means what it has always meant, the President doesn’t want this to become a major campaign issue. But events may force his hand. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just upheld District Judge Vaughn Walker’s controversial decision to strike down the Prop. 8 referendum in California, which had defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The case is undoubtedly headed to the US Supreme Court, where it will become a national controversy.
While most of the media claim that this is a matter of “marriage equality,” most Americans know it is about something different: whether the state will respect a universal, pre-political institution based on human nature, or will arrogate to itself the authority to redefine that institution according to left wing, secularist sensibilities.
By the time November rolls around, President Obama will be wishing voters were only focusing on job creation and the economy. http://newscastmedia.com/social-dynamics.html
James Robison is the co-author of Indivisible, the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, and the co-host of the daily syndicated television program LIFE Today. He is also the author of Living in Love, True Prosperity, My Father’s Face, and many others.
Jay W. Richards is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Wealth, Poverty, and Morality at the
Discovery Institute, and the co-author of Indivisible. He is also the author of Money, Greed, and God, The
Privileged Planet, and God and Evolution.
Newscast Media HOUSTON, TX– Florida federal judge has struck down Obama’s health care plan that would have forced Americans to purchase health care whether they needed it or not. Those who couldn’t afford the plan and therefore would buy it, would have been fined for not buying the plan.
Federal Judge Roger Vinson in Florida ruled Monday that the entire health care law is unconstitutional and wrote in his 78-page ruling: “This is obviously a very difficult task. Regardless of how laudable its attempts may have been to accomplish these goals in passing the Act, Congress must operate within the bounds established by the Constitution.”
The ruling says, individual mandate, which imposes a fine on individuals who do not purchase health insurance, is unconstitutional and not “severable” from the full law. Therefore, “the entire act must be declared void.”
“It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place,” the ruling says.
After Obama signed the highly-contested health care bill, 26 states including Texas filed a lawsuit in opposition to Obamacare. There is no doubt that the ruling by a federal judge of ObamaCare as unconstitutional will provide ammunition for his opponents in the 2012 presidential race.