Category archives: Health Care

UN, Please Note that Abortion is not Maternal Health Care

by Arina Grossu

April 14, 2014

The UN Commission on Population and Development held its annual meeting last week. Wendy Wright (C-FAM) delivered a statement jointly submitted by the Family Research Council, C-FAM and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG).

We must continue to hold the U.N. accountable for keeping maternal health as the priority in the agenda and not conflating it with abortion services. Here are some excerpts:

Now better than ever before, we know what it takes to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers. It takes investment in education, skilled birth attendants, prenatal and antenatal care, clean water and sanitation, adequate nutrition and vitamins, antibiotics and other healing medicines, and emergency obstetric care.

Making abortion legal doesn’t improve maternal health in any way.

Maternal health care strives to make pregnancy safer for both mothers and their unborn children. Preventing births by aborting the unborn child, or preventing the human embryo from implanting in the mother’s womb does not improve the health of the mother or her unborn child.

We know what it takes to make pregnancy and childbirth safe. Maternal health care, must remain a distinct and urgent priority in the post-2015 development agenda. This cannot be confused with elective abortion, which destroys the life of innocent unborn children and places the lives of mothers in jeopardy.”

Let’s work on real solutions to improve maternal health care around the world. Abortion is not the answer.

Crowding Out by Obamacare

by Chris Gacek

March 24, 2014

Recently, a local talk radio program here in D.C. had a caller who described his before and after insurance costs for his family of four. Before Obamacare: $3,500; after Obamacare: $10,500. His family’s disposable income has decreased by $7,000. He asserted that his family was middle class, so for someone who is not wealthy an income loss of $7,000 per annum is enormous. (And, substantial premium increases are expected in some regions of the country.)

Think of the businesses and organizations that may be hurt or “crowded out” by the implementation of this new tax: restaurants, auto companies, appliance makers, home improvement firms, decorators, book sellers, home sellers, educational programs, and charities. The list is long. One also has to have sympathy for young adults who may have substantial college debt along with this healthcare burden. Will people delay marriage and have fewer children? Probably so.

If we wish to restore economic growth and family formation and prosperity, it just seems obvious that the Affordable Care Act has to be repealed and replaced. The numbers are just too brutal.

Corporate Social Responsibility, Race-Based Companies, and Hobby Lobby

by Travis Weber

March 21, 2014

In recent years, Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) has sprung up as an area of interest to a variety of business forums — they promote it, talk about it, tout their CSR “compliance” on their websites, and brag about it to whoever will listen. Many corporations have entire CSR departments. They release yearly reports documenting their CSR compliance. Law firms have even established CSR practice areas. Corporations may seek to ensure they are advancing “sustainable” practices were possible, that they are treating indigenous populations equitably, and that their suppliers are not committing human rights abuses. “Green” corporations may enact policies above and beyond regulatory requirements in order to further their goal of caring for the environment. While laws related to CSR have been enacted in various jurisdictions, much CSR corporate compliance is still voluntary. So why have companies moved toward and embraced CSR? While they would likely provide a variety of reasons, the fact remains that the driving force behind these businesses — the people who run them — think it is a good thing.

By and large, no one critiques corporate interest in CSR. Many say it is a good development. No one claims that “corporations” cannot engage in CSR-related advocacy. And most of the large corporations with CSR departments are for-profit companies.

How, then, do we arrive at the curious and odd criticism of Hobby Lobby for relying on religious beliefs in its operation? There is no good answer to this. Hobby Lobby’s religious positions are the result of the same driving force producing CSR program at other companies — its owners and operators. It is ironic that the company being criticized for its challenge to the HHS mandate has voluntarily implemented generous CSR type programs, like starting its new employees at 90% above the minimum wage. Yet Hobby

Those claiming a corporation cannot have a religious identity look to be on increasingly weak ground, however, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently ruled in Carnell Construction Corportation v. Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, No. 13-1143 (4th Cir. Mar. 6, 2014) that a corporation can have a racial identity under federal law. If the issue is whether a corporation can have an “identity” that drives its goals and priorities, what’s the difference between a “religious” and “racial” identity?

As Matt Bowman, an attorney for Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation (which is facing the same issue as Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court), points out: “[a] gaggle of special interest groups supporting Obamacare’s coercion is outraged at this suggestion. They profess to be shocked — shocked! — that anyone would say a family business has religious freedom. But these same groups apparently favor a legal regime that says for-profit corporations can be racial minorities and can exercise the most intimate and private constitutional “rights” to contraception and abortion. Their outrage is withheld until families in business claim to be religious.”

Hobby Lobby’s opponents know for-profit businesses are an influential social force. Scared of the prospect of not being able to smother all of society with their pro-contraceptive and pro-abortion views, Hobby Lobby’s opponents must find some distinction upon which to rest their hat — in this case it just happens to be seeking a profit. Lacking a legitimate reason to deny American small business owners the right to exercise their faith, opponents find an easier time inferring such businesses are “bad” and entitled to less protection because they seek to make money. This claim looks increasingly desperate, however, in face of the fact that the businesses promoting the CSR practices discussed above are almost all very large, for-profit corporations. And no one takes issue with that.

Few have a problem with corporations being able to provide shoes for children, supply water for those who need it, provide special attention to their environment, and ensure their suppliers are not committing human rights abuses. Neither should there be any issue with a business being run according to the faith of its owners.

Obamacare Open-Enrollment and Statistical Reality

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 20, 2014

On this first day of spring, the brilliant Avik Roy of Forbes Magazine asks two questions about the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare:

First: how many people who have signed up for coverage were previously uninsured? Second: will the botched rollout and design flaws lead to even higher health insurance costs next year?

Roy suggests that health care premiums might soar by as much as 40 percent in 2015, and concludes by asking, “For those who already struggle to afford their health insurance bills, the worst is not yet over.” One of the sounds you do not hear is Tony the Tiger saying, “Grrrrr-eat!”

National Public Radio reports today that enrollment in Obamcare is “surging,” and is now over five million. That’s two million less than the White House’s original prediction of seven million by the end of the open-enrollment period, which comes on the 31st of this month.

Even the five million figure is in dispute, but let’s be charitable and accept that figure — and even go one better, and believe the White House that one million more people might enroll by midnight, March 31. Yet as Washington Times columnist Joseph Curl points out, we were told repeatedly by the President and his top aides that as late as last June, there were 46 million Americans without health insurance. What are the rest of them doing?

According to a January 2014 McKinsey survey of more than 4,500 Americans eligible for a “qualified health plan,” of the 28 percent of Americans who signed-up for personal health insurance in 2014, only 11 percent “reported themselves previously uninsured.” How can a dribble be mistaken for a surge?

The Administration also continues to qualify and postpone various provisions of the plan. The Galen Institute says that as of March 5, there have been at least “37 significant changes already have been made to ObamaCare: at least 20 that President Obama has made unilaterally, 15 that Congress has passed and the president has signed, and 2 by the Supreme Court.” Obamacare is, as Avik Roy notes, being made up as it goes along.

A final note: Contrary to the claims of many on the Left, Republicans have offered several comprehensive health care reform plans, alternatives to Obamacare that are market-focused and patient-driven. Included among them:

  • H.R. 3121: “The American Health Care Reform Act” – U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D.(R-TN) (Dr. Roe outlined his plan at FRC in November.)

 

  • H.R. 3400: “The Empowering Patients First Act” – U.S. Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA).

 

  • S. 1783: “Ten Steps to Transform Health Care in America Act” – U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).

 

  • In process: “The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act, or the Patient CARE Act (PCA)” – U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). A framework of the measure has been developed, and its language is now being written.

I don’t suggest that each of these measures is perfect, complete, or even affordable. Rather, when the President asserts that the GOP has no alternative to his plan, he’s wrong. He might not like what conservatives are offering but he cannot claim they have not provided encompassing, beginning-to-end medical system reform plans.

It is wearisome to debate all the motivations of those who support the Affordable Care Act. Let’s say all of them mean well for everyone (except for the unborn, whose destruction is subsidized by Obamacare). Fine. But let’s also look at reality in its cold, steely eyes: Obamacare is a mess, a fiscal and practical disaster.

There is no shortage of thoughtful and, sometimes, rightly biting commentary on Obamacare on the FRC website. I’ll let my distinguished colleague Ken Blackwell have the last word: “ObamaCare cannot be salvaged, because government-run health care cannot work better than free markets. Government safety nets work only when relatively few people are in those nets.”

On the Free Exercise of Government…

by Travis Weber

March 10, 2014

Legal scholar and novelist Garrett Epps opens his recent piece in The Atlantic with the following statement: “If the conservative justices uses [sic] the same logic they have in the past, Hobby Lobby’s case against the contraceptive mandate doesn’t stand a chance.”

Mr. Epps conveniently finds praise for Supreme Court precedent, a position often either used or discarded as best serves the cultural assault on Christian ethics. Indeed, one can scarcely find lamentations about discarded precedent as district courts currently invent a federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. Here, however, Mr. Epps simply distracts from the free exercise issues in the Hobby Lobby case.

Hobby Lobby’s case centers on a free exercise claim brought under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). But Mr. Epps relies almost entirely on Establishment Clause cases as he attempts to argue that Hobby Lobby has no right to refuse to pay for certain contraceptives.

After laying out his arguments, he appears to receive the following special revelation: “But that’s the rub… When government directly funds religion, the Establishment Clause is violated; but when government gives benefits to individuals, and the individuals pass on the benefit to religion, no dissenter is injured, so there’s no violation.” After discussing how taxpayers should not be forced to provide money directly to churches, he asks: “Why is Hobby Lobby injured if the taxpayers in the Establishment Clause cases are not?”

I would have thought the answer is rather clear: the taxpayers are not seeking to exercise any right based on a religious objection to action compelled by the government. Exactly what “rub” Mr. Epps is talking about remains unclear. Hobby Lobby’s case is about whether the “exercise of religion” is substantially burdened under RFRA. It is not about the Establishment Clause or individuals being forced to support religion at the direction of the government.

Nevertheless, Mr. Epps continues: “[T]o assert a right to control employees’ private choice will be to hold that religious people — or, even more ominously, some favored religious people — are more easily injured than others, that their free-exercise rights trump those of their employees.” Mr. Epps does not explain what he means by “favored” religious people, but he falsely asserts that Hobby Lobby is seeking to control its employees’ choices. The Greens are not preventing their employees from obtaining the contraceptives at issue; they are merely saying: “Don’t make us violate our consciences by forcing us to use our company as the conduit for their delivery.” The Greens, like many Americans, simply want to remain free to live and work according to their beliefs. They don’t want to be forced to choose between paying crippling fines, shutting down their business, or dropping healthcare for their employees in order to avoid violating their consciences.

It remains unclear what “free exercise rights … of … employees” Mr. Epps is talking about. The reader hopes he is not suggesting that an individual’s religion requires their employer to pay for their contraception — indeed, such an idea is nonsensical. In any event, such musings are merely a distraction from reality, as Hobby Lobby’s employees have suffered no violation of their constitutional rights — they retain full access to all the contraceptives available under the employer mandate.

Furthermore, Hobby Lobby is willing to pay for 16 of the 20 contraceptives required by the mandate. The Green family only objects to 4 drugs that destroy human embryos, and does not want to be compelled to pay for the destruction of human life. In addition, Hobby Lobby is not objecting to employee access to these 4 life-destroying drugs, but merely saying it should not be compelled to cover them.

Mr. Epps’ claim that “[a]ll consciences are equal; but some are thus more equal than others” might sound catchy, but it twists the truth and clouds a proper understanding of the issue at hand. There is no conscience right to demand that others subsidize one’s birth control methods. And contrary to his assertions, RFRA does “elevate” religious claims when it forces the government to justify itself under strict scrutiny in free exercise matters. It does not merely “balance” free exercise claims against whatever law the government puts in place.

In an odd conclusion to his piece, Mr. Epps attempts to cite the Gospel of Luke for support of his anti-religious position. The parable he cites is actually in the Gospel of Matthew. But more importantly, the passage does not even support his argument. Examining the story in its full context, the laborers were actually complaining to their master about the size of their respective paychecks. The generous master (God) says he has the right to do what he wants with his own resources. This parable hardly supports the notion that Hobby Lobby’s employees should coerce it to subsidize their wages (which for beginning employees starts at 90% above the federal minimum wage) with birth control.

Hobby Lobby is not seeking to “dictate” anything to its employees. Hobby Lobby is not preventing its employees from using birth control methods. Hobby Lobby is merely saying: “Don’t force me to cover them!” The Greens are not trying to control employee choices; they simply object to being forced to subsidize acts that go against their religion.

In the end, the members of the Green family are merely seeking to exercise their religion as they run their company. Such a demand is not beyond the bounds of reasonable free exercise interpretation. RFRA makes that secure. The Court has supported even bolder free exercise claims in the past. It should support the Greens’ rather modest claim in this case.

Last month, FRC filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case that can be read here.

Obamacare: America’s Personal, Political, and Economic Wrecking Ball

by Chris Gacek

February 3, 2014

The Weekly Standard links to a revealing local TV story on the reactions of employees at a Pittsburgh-area auto body shop to the health care coverage they will be receiving under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If anyone thinks we have seen the worst of the personal, political, and economic effects of Obamacare, they are kidding themselves. For viewers who have been following the ACA’s implementation, the most salient issues were present cognitively, but to see these devastating forces at work in real lives in a brief video is powerful.

The employees at this small business agreed that they cannot afford the new coverage. Most harmful will be the substantial increases in deductibles and co-pays. Most people are aware of the substantial increases in deductibles, but the co-pays (including “co-insurance”) are another major problem. The substantial increases in the mere price of a visit to a doctor would be uncomfortable but tolerable. But as one website notes regarding the cheapest plan, “Bronze Plans are designed so that insurance companies will pay 60% of covered healthcare expenses with the remaining 40% to be paid by consumers.” There is an annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses set at $6,350, and it seems clear that many people will be paying that maximum amount annually. That will be something new to them.

That is not the way the old plans worked in terms of total exposure for employees. As this becomes clearer, it is hard for me to see how the ACA will survive unless the GOP saves it.

The People’s House Voted Today to Protect Taxpayers from Paying for Abortion

by Emily Minick

January 28, 2014

Today the House debated and passed H.R. 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL). Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) controlled debate today on the House floor and defended the will of an overwhelming majority of Americans who are opposed to paying for other people’s abortions and want the government to be neutral when it comes to the funding of abortion.

This bill is extremely simple- it would permanently codify the Hyde Amendment, and other pro-life provisions, in federal law and across government programs.

Some may ask, “Why is this bill necessary since the Hyde Amendment is currently law”?

The answer to this is very clear, the passage of H.R. 7 is necessary because each year the Hyde Amendment needs to be re-authorized. Additionally, Obamacare bypasses the Hyde Amendment and directly appropriates funds to assist individuals, via the form of tax credits, in purchasing healthcare which could include abortion coverage.

Obamacare violates the principles of the Hyde Amendment, despite the President’s claim that the passage of his signature law would not violate Hyde’s principles.

Even with the Hyde Amendment’s annual renewal, there have been times in recent history where the government has funded abortion. Hyde doesn’t cover other funding streams outside of the Department of Health and Human Services and Medicaid. Despite the fact that Hyde was in effect, in 2009 Congress failed to include the Dornan Amendment, which prohibits government funds from paying for abortions in the District of Columbia, and for a period of a year and a half taxpayers paid for 300 abortions totaling $185,000. This, despite the fact that Hyde was in effect.

The principles of the Hyde Amendment need to be permanently codified and applied across federal funding streams.

Besides the fact that Obamacare bypasses the Hyde Amendment and uses taxpayer dollars to assist individuals in paying for abortions, it also prevents individuals from knowing whether or not a healthcare plan includes abortion coverage, until after they already pay and enroll. Transparency is necessary to good governance and lawmaking. H.R. 7 would require that whether or not a plan covers abortion be prominently displayed at the time of enrollment, so individuals can make an informed decision.

As we saw today on the House floor, opponents of the bill can make up a lot of excuses as to why this bill should not pass, yet they fail to address the issue at hand, the issue of eliminating the taxpayer’s role in abortion.

Nothing in this bill would prevent a woman from having an abortion, purchasing a healthcare plan which includes abortion coverage with her own funds, or prohibit women in the District of Columbia from having an abortion.

For over 30 years the Hyde Amendment has recognized that abortion is not healthcare, and thus the taxpayer should have no role in the funding of abortion. This bill applies these principles across the government. Today the people’s house voted to protect taxpayers, women and their unborn children.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus joins Tony Perkins on Washington Watch

by Tony Perkins

January 10, 2014

Reince Priebus chair of the Republican National Committee, announced a delay in their annual national meeting in order for members of both the House and Senate to attend the March for Life in Washington DC on January 22nd. This year marks the 41st anniversary of the tragic decision made in Roe v. Wade, the court case legalizing abortion.

Although there have been many applauding this decision by the RNC to delay their national meeting, the applause has been met with its share of criticism. Click here to listen to the entire interview between Tony & RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus.

New Video: 45 Birthdays

by Carrie Russell

January 9, 2014

16,000 lives are saved each year when a mother views the ultrasound of her unborn child at a Pregnancy Resource Center. This means that, thanks to these ultrasounds, there are 45 birthdays being celebrated everyday.

2013: The Year of the Obamacare Exemption

by Emily Minick

December 23, 2013

For Obamacare, 2013 can most certainly be deemed the year of the exemption. As this year comes to a close, let’s take a look at what is at stake starting January 1, 2014, and what groups have been exempted from the law.

Who Hasn’t Yet Received An Exemption from Obamacare?

Religious employers and businesses run from a faith perspective.

On January 1, 2014, the HHS mandate’s safe harbor for religious employers and businesses run from a faith perspective, like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Inc., will expire and employers will either be forced to violate their conscience and include sterilization services, drugs which can destroy a human embryo and contraception in their healthcare plan, pay fines of up to $100 per day per employee for not-complying, or dropping healthcare coverage for their employees altogether.

The start of the New Year will usher in the first time in this country’s history that the federal government would force individuals to purchase a product, to which they morally object. Forcing businesses to comply, or be fined, is no choice.

A new FRC/ADF poll found that more likely voters disapprove of the HHS mandate (59%) than disapprove of Obamacare in its entirety (54%). A just released CNN poll also found that 62% of Americans disapprove of the law, and including 60% of women.

Why are religious employers and individuals still waiting for an exemption while the Administration has unilaterally, without the approval of Congress, granted countless exemptions and concessions to other groups, in violation of their own signature law?

Who Has Received An Exemption from Obamacare?

Some of the exemptions granted are parts of the law supporters have deemed essential to its functioning.

  • Obamacare’s employer mandate, which requires that employers with 50 or more employees provide healthcare coverage or pay a fine of $2,000 per employee per year, has been delayed by one year until 2015.
  • Operation of the federal small business healthcare exchange (SHOP) has been delayed for a year, until November 2014.
  • Healthcare plans which do not meet Obamacare’s new standards have been exempted, allowing individuals to keep their plans which the law deems uncompliant for a year.
  • Those whose plans have been cancelled can qualify for a “hardship” exemption and apply for a catastrophic plan, or even forgo healthcare coverage for an entire year without penalty.

It was also just announced that the Administration has extended the deadline to sign up for health insurance on the federal healthcare exchange by another day, until Christmas Eve, in an effort to shore up higher enrollment numbers.

These numerous exemptions has even led Chuck Todd, an MSNBC correspondent, to recently say, “If you put together all the different ways that they have delayed or grandfathered certain things in … I’m starting to wonder if anybody is ever going to pay the penalty in the first year.”

The gaping holes in the Obamacare ship are expanding, yet the Administration remains insistent on making religious employers one of the only groups that must comply with this failing law.

Although the Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging the HHS mandate on religious liberty grounds, Congress must act to protect individuals and businesses from the HHS mandate, if they morally object to providing these drugs and services to their employees. Forcing religious employers to choose between paying crippling fines, or dropping coverage for their employees and their families, is not good for the economy, the country and women. The HHS mandate is the next instance of how Obamacare could impact your life, your job, or your healthcare.

Let us hope that this New Year the HHS mandate is the next part of Obamacare that the Supreme Court will find unconstitutional.

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