No mandate exemption for religious groups
The Washington Times persists in reporting that the Obama administration has “agreed to exempt religion-affiliated universities, charities and hospitals” from its contraceptive coverage mandate (“Limbaugh apology garners bipartisan approval,” Web, Sunday). However, this is not the case.
On Feb. 10, the administration’s controversial mandate and its incredibly narrow religious exemption were finalized “without change.” The published rule says four times that it is finalizing this policy “without change.” The administration says it may issue an additional rule by August regarding the manner in which this mandate will be imposed on the many religious organizations that remain “nonexempt.”
The central feature of this proposal is that since it is against these organizations’ consciences to cover such items, insurers (acting on orders from the government) will insert the items into the coverage instead.
This is not an exemption, and even the administration has not claimed that it is. All these organizations’ employees will be covered by the mandate. Any new policy that did expand the religious exemption would be illegal under the rule that has been finalized, which the administration says it will not change.
RICHARD M. DOERFLINGER