"First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you."
These are the words that America heard President Obama speak time and time again during his exhaustive push for national healthcare reform. He assured Americans over and over that if we had healthcare coverage we liked, nothing would change. We could all keep our plans and ignore the overhaul of one-sixth of the entire economy that Obamacare would change.
One needs to look no further than the mandate imposed by President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services, which forces employers and institutions, regardless of their faith, to pay for contraception and abortion-causing drugs in their group health insurance plans, to see the deceit the administration used when imposing Obamacare on America. And those supposed exemptions to the mandate? Under the waivers created by the administration, even Mother Teresa’s order of nuns, the Missionaries of Charity, would not qualify as a “religious institution” and be exempt from covering contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
If pious nuns can’t be exempt from either providing insurance to their members or violating their deeply held beliefs if they do, where does that leave universities, Catholic hospitals, and others like myself who run a secular, non-profit dedicated to ending abortion but now will be forced to pay for it in my employee health insurance plan?
If these institutions and universities, and in some cases employers, are dedicated to their faith and refuse to comply with the mandate, it leaves them no option but to stop providing health insurance – which is exactly what one of the biggest Catholic universities did this week. Rather than comply with the mandate and violate religious beliefs, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, decided to drop health insurance coverage for their students all together. Another Catholic university, Ave Maria in Florida, looks like they are going to follow in Franciscan University’s steps as well and drop their student health plans.
One of the goals for the Affordable Care Act was to expand coverage and lower costs. By putting religious institutions at an impasse between following their consciences and not providing health insurance or violating their beliefs and paying a hefty fine in the process, the healthcare law has done the exact opposite and forced college-age kids, and potentially many others, into the ranks of the uninsured. How does that help anyone to afford healthcare services and have health insurance?
With a record number of students who owe money on massive school loans and are out of work, I would think forcing universities to either violate their consciences or drop their health plans would be one more thing that the President does not want to add to his repertoire.
Faith and freedom of conscience are precious values in America. The HHS mandate needs to be repealed immediately. Franciscan University and Ave Maria University are just the tip of the iceberg.
Kristan Hawkins is the executive director of Students of Life for America.