The Norman Transcript

December 7, 2013

Health law back to Supreme Court

By Sarah Torre
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The problems with Affordable Care Act seem endless. Now the unpopular health-care law is headed back to the Supreme Court, this time over one of the law’s many onerous mandates restricting choice and trampling fundamental freedoms.

The court recently agreed to review the requirement that forces employers to provide coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices or risk paying fines of up to $100 per employee per day.

Outcry over the rule has led more than 200 family businesses, schools, charities and individuals to file more than 80 cases against the rule. These Americans rightly argue that the health-care law is threatening their ability to work and serve in accordance with their values by forcing them to provide coverage of life-ending drugs and devices in violation of their moral or religious beliefs.

With the defiance characteristic of the administration’s response to the law’s critics, the White House said it was “confident” that the rule would win in court. Press secretary Jay Carney pointed to a so-called “accommodation,” but that unworkable policy gimmick, developed after a lengthy administrative process, doesn’t apply to family business and does not adequately protect religious organizations.

But federal courts haven’t been convinced by the administration’s pronouncements and regulatory rewriting. To date, of the 38 cases with rulings touching on the merits, 32 have been awarded temporary halts to the rule.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 32 wins for freedom, six for Obamacare.

Nor is the American public buying the administration’s smoke and mirrors of phony “accommodations” and supposed compromises. A new survey shows that nearly 60 percent of likely voters oppose the abortion-inducing drug mandate. The same poll found that 54 percent of likely voters disapprove of the health law overall.

Americans have every reason to be concerned that the one-size-fits-all regime of Obamacare will restrict their ability to choose coverage for themselves and their families and run roughshod over their values. The law is a blank check for unelected bureaucrats to create complex rules that can trample on freedom.

The Affordable Care Act has given the federal government broad authority to decide what insurance companies must cover, employers must provide, and individuals must purchase. Americans’ choice of health care, coverage options and religious freedom is now subject to the negotiations of bureaucrats.

Moreover, throughout litigation over the mandate, the Obama administration has relied on a faulty argument that families who build businesses, create jobs and grow the economy lose their right to religious freedom when they walk in the doors of their workplaces.

Such an offensively narrow view of faith in public life has threatened the rights and livelihoods of many job-creating businesses and their owners. That includes the Green family, who own Hobby Lobby, and the Hahn family, who run Conestoga Wood Specialties. Both cases will be heard by the Supreme Court in the spring.

Employees, individuals and all Americans should be able to choose health care that best fits the needs of their families and respects their freedom. And employers should be able to build and grow job-creating businesses in accordance with their values without threat of government penalties.

Americans deserve a health-care system that increases access, helps keep costs down, and allows individuals and families to provide and choose health care coverage that respects their values.

The Supreme Court should recognize Obamacare’s serious assault on Americans’ religious liberty — our “first freedom” — by ruling against the mandate. In the meantime, Congress can start disassembling the rest of Obamacare that’s trampling on Americans’ health care, prosperity and fundamental freedoms.

Sarah Torre is a policy analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation. Readers may write to the author in care of The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; Web site: heritage.org. Information about Heritage’s funding may be found at h heritage.org/about/reports.cfm.

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