You know the problem with Obamacare, don't you? I mean aside from the clear infringement on personal freedom, the obvious financial devastation that it will create, and the looming health care rationing that the Left swears will never happen?
The problem is? I'm telling you, every time some new requirement or hidden fee or unrecognized consequence of the HHS mandates comes to light, I feel as if I'm walking through a Dynasty episode or something…
I know, I know – Dynasty hasn't been part of any real pop-culture taxonomy since around the early 90s. That's okay. Given the current status of our Sebelian/Orwellian HHS melodrama, I think the outdated reference works just fine. If someone would be courteous enough to cue the ominous music when Sebelius takes to the podium, I think we would all be more than grateful. Because, I can't help it. When I start ruminating over this whole health care fiasco and running through the never ending, soap opera drama in my mind, the part of Kathleen Sebelius is almost always played by Joan Collins much to my surprise
No, I'm not kidding. Take away the shoulder pads and the big 80s hair and Sebelius has kind of an Alexis Carrington vibe going on. Do you suppose that Ms. Collins would be available when they are ready to make that made for TV version of Sebelius's life story which I'm sure is in the works? What's she up to these days? She's still alive, right?
Collins, I mean. Sebelius always seems more dementor than human to me, so there's no telling if there's an actual pulse going on there. Hmmm. I'll land on the side of caution and assume that she's alive too.
So when we last left Kathleen Sebelius, she was presenting the Obama Administration's magnanimous compromises with regard to the original compromises that are associated with the HHS mandates that were thrown down from on high about twelve months ago. As you may or may not be aware, those requirements are currently sending shockwaves of litigation and wasted capital through religious and business circles with the fleeting hope that they can fend off this governmental overreach and secure the blessings of liberty that we mistakenly take for granted. Those mandates – as a reminder – deal specifically with women's health services.
For those of you who are not familiar with such quirky vernacular, the term "women's health services" is, in fact, progressive-speak for abortions, contraception and sterilization because when it comes to being a woman in America, the blessings of liberty cannot truly be realized unless uterine assault is free, sterilizing services are so accessible as to leave every woman of child bearing age pickled, barren and ready to take on that proverbial glass ceiling, and contraception comes with a side order of fries and no more than 16 ounces of cola…because she might have the freedom to kill her offspring but she most certainly cannot be trusted to make the right dietary choices regarding her beverage consumption. Who are we kidding?
Last year, religious groups and businesses run by religious individuals learned that, in spite of the promise of accommodations regarding our so-dubbed "women's health services", all but a narrowly defined group of churches, auxiliaries and associations were to be exempted from the financing of reproductive services that many religious…and non-religious… organizations find objectionable. This, as you will remember, is tantamount to producing State endorsed religious organizations. This would ultimately evolve with the government's ability to define and narrow religious expression to those willing to play bureaucratic ball with the Department of Health and Human Services… chilling…this is where Alexis would stride in wearing a smart suit and 6 inch heels to let us all know that if we don't like it we can tell it to the hand…let's try to keep the plot moving forward, please.
So churches, organizations and businesses such as Hobby Lobby began pursuing legal options as a way of fighting such blatantly unconstitutional restrictions on religious freedom. A lot of time, a lot of energy and a lot of resources are being poured into that task, but not to worry. Help is on the way. Last week, Ms. Sebelius presented a counter offer as a way of compromising through the (as yet) undelivered accommodations to the HHS mandates…as if a compromise of our First Amendment rights was preferable, but I digress.
And this is where the storyline gets interesting, you see – Sebelius's proposal? You can have her answer now if you like. Her final offer is this: nothing.
Yeah. I know, that's not Dynasty. That's The Godfather. I'm getting my extended metaphors confused, but never the less; her offer was a resounding nothing.
That's almost verbatim in fact – I mean, that's what you are left with once you sift through the HHS's bazillion-paged homage to legalese. And you wouldn't necessarily notice that they offered no compromise based on the media's fawning coverage of the event. The media instead regurgitated last week's announcement as proof of the Obama Administration's commitment to equity, but where truth and respect ought to reside within our taxpayer funded negotiations, there is -in its place - a willful and toddler-esque lack of movement and a good deal of cynicism within this non-concession.
Per sites like LifeNews and the Washington Times, non-profits will still be required to comply with the mandates. The insurance companies of the non-profits will still provide coverage for abortifacients, and other forms of birth control but it will be accessed directly from the insurance companies thereby streamlining the process and providing the illusion that the NFP is not covering objectionable services. Non-profits that are privately insured will be required to contract with a third-party provider in order to deliver these services. And for the for-profit businesses such as Hobby Lobby and Hercules Industries, they will still be required to conform to the HHS mandates. Universities such as Notre Dame and Wheaton College will still be required to fund these services. Organizations such as Catholic Charities will still be required to offer this kind of coverage. Christian news organizations will be required as well. The Catholic cable network EWTN released a statement that:
"We have analyzed today's notice with our legal team from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the initial conclusions are not promising. First, this is simply a notice of a proposed rule; it is not an actual rule that changes anything. Second, while the proposed rules might expand the mandate's religious exemption for some organizations affiliated directly with the Church, it does not appear that EWTN will qualify for this exemption. Third, the proposed rules have not dealt with the concerns of self-insured health plans like EWTN's. Today's notice from the government simply kicks this can further down the road."
Per The Catholic World Report, and yes – there are a lot of Catholic references today – the Alliance Defending Freedom had this to say about the smattering of endorsements that some fringe and shortsighted Christian organizations are providing for these proposals. (The Obama Administration will naturally point to these endorsements as proof that the non-concessions have been accepted):
" [It is said] that the proposed rule eliminates the four-part religious exemption distinction, separating the church from her hospitals, universities, charities and other ministries. This is simply incorrect. The proposed rule continues to offer an exemption to churches and only churches, not to universities, hospitals, charities and other non-profits. The rule does eliminate the three requirements that churches must be self-focused. But it maintains the fourth requirement that only churches and religious orders are exempt–only those entities that do not file an IRS form 990 (an arbitrary and narrow category to use for this purpose). The proposed rule fully maintains the distinction that only churches, not their ministries, deserve an exemption."
And there is the crux of this whole HHS nonsense. The Obama Administration is effectively separating churches and religious organizations from their ministries by defining which entities and individuals can expect the full First Amendment protection of their religious liberties. You've got to hand it to this administration. They never shy away from a challenge. It's relatively easy to get Americans to hate on gun owners. That's a no-brainer. Incentivize avarice and you can get them to limit an individual's right to wealth and income…but religion is a whole other thing. If you can manage to neutralize and then vilify churches and their parishioners, those ministries and service which have traditionally been offered through those organizations will need to be absorbed somewhere else.
And that somewhere else will be Washington…the land of smart suits and melodrama.