WASHINGTON DC - August 1, the Obama Administration's Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act mandate went into effect, forcing employers to offer abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, or sterilization for their employees in their health care plans. The HHS mandate will force employers to either violate their deeply held beliefs or forfeit the provision of health insurance altogether and risk steep fines.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska has proposed legislation that would correct the First Amendment suffocating law - H.R. 1179 - the Respect for Right of Conscience Act of 2011.
Of the bill's 223 co-sponsors, nine Illinois Republican US House members have signed onto Fortenberry's bill - Randy Hultgren, Tim Johnson, Adam Kinzinger, Don Manzullo, Peter Roskam, Bobby Schilling, Aaron Schock, John Shimkus, and Joe Walsh. Neither GOP member Judy Biggert nor Bob Dold have added their names to the co-sponsorship list. Two Democrats from Illinois - Dan Lipinski and Jerry Costello - have added their support.
The Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011 amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty. The legislation declares that such plans are still considered to: (1) be providing the essential health benefits package or preventive health services, (2) be a qualified health plan, and (3) have fulfilled other requirements under PPACA.
The RRCA of 2011 provides that nothing in PPACA shall be construed to authorize a health plan to require a provider to provide, participate in, or refer for a specific item or service contrary to the provider's religious beliefs or moral convictions. It prohibits a health plan from being considered to have failed to provide timely or other access to items or services or to fulfill any other requirement under PPACA because it has respected the rights of conscience of such a provider.
Family Research Council urges constituents to call their lawmakers if they haven't yet signed on, and to urge Speaker Boehner to call the bill for a House floor vote. With 224 signed onto the bill, it's obvious it will pass if called.
The bill, though, would likely fail in the Democrat-led U.S. Senate unless there is high public demand, and then it would be sent to President Obama's desk, where it is certain he would veto the legislation.