Oba­macare gets a headache

An ap­peals court halts a sor­did ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign

The Washington Times Daily - - Editorial -

The govern­ment is look­ing for the panic but­ton. The Oba­macare ad­min­is­tra­tors are des­per­ate for cus­tomers, and they’re turn­ing to the squalid and the sor­did to sell the govern­ment health care scheme no­body wants. The “Thanks, Oba­macare” ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign, for ex­am­ple, de­picts a woman stand­ing next to a scruffy man who needs a bath, giv­ing him a thumbs up with one hand and of­fer­ing pills with the other. “OMG, he’s hot,” she says. “Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth con­trol.”

There’s a “bro­surance” ad­vert — “in­sur­ance for the brother,” get it? — fea­tur­ing an up­side-down fra­ter­nity brother do­ing what fra­ter­nity broth­ers do best, guz­zling beer. “Keg stands are crazy,” the copy reads. Oba­macare proves it’s an equal-op­por­tu­nity ir­re­spon­si­ble lout.

These ads re­veal how Pres­i­dent Obama isn’t about “re­form­ing” health care so much as re­shap­ing the much abused cul­ture. Nearly everybody has no­ticed. The 7th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals on Fri­day cited Oba­macare’s in­ten­tional de­struc­tion of re­li­gious free­dom as “un­sound and ex­traor­di­nary.”

The own­ers of two fam­ily busi­nesses, K&L Con­trac­tors and Grote In­dus­tries, sued the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices to seek re­lief from an or­der re­quir­ing them to vi­o­late their re­li­gious be­liefs.

The depart­ment or­dered fines of $36,500 per em­ployee per year un­til they pro­vide health in­sur­ance with birth-con­trol de­vices, ac­cess to ster­il­iza­tion and abor­tion ser­vices. Com­pany own­ers with a moral op­po­si­tion to the pol­icy might be tempted to elim­i­nate all cov­er­age of em­ploy­ees, but in that event, the com­pany would be fined $2,000 for ev­ery worker ev­ery year. Ad­di­tional sanc­tions from the Depart­ment of La­bor could fol­low.

K&L Con­trac­tors em­ploys 90 work­ers and faces $730,000 in an­nual fines. Grote In­dus­tries, which makes ve­hi­cle safety sys­tems, em­ploys 1,148 work­ers and would be li­able for a $17 mil­lion penalty ev­ery year. But such penal­ties aren’t just for large em­ploy­ers. A two-man travel agency would have to pay $73,000 in an­nual fines if the small-busi­ness in­sur­ance pol­icy isn’t en­dorsed by Planned Par­ent­hood.

Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Kath­leen Se­be­lius and her lawyers in­sist that busi­ness own­ers have no choice but to sub­si­dize keg stands and birth con­trol be­cause cor­po­ra­tions aren’t re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions, like a church or a syn­a­gogue. The ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gues that for-profit cor­po­ra­tions have no rights to present a moral ob­jec­tion.

“A cor­po­ra­tion is just a spe­cial form of or­ga­ni­za­tional as­so­ci­a­tion,” Judge Diane S. Sykes wrote for the ap­peals court ma­jor­ity. “No one doubts that or­ga­ni­za­tional as­so­ci­a­tions can en­gage in re­li­gious prac­tice.” The panel ob­served that the govern­ment must have a good rea­son to re­quire an as­so­ci­a­tion to join in what the di­rec­tors of the as­so­ci­a­tion be­lieve to be a grave moral wrong.

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to ar­gu­ments and go­ing over moun­tains of le­gal briefs, it be­came clear to the court that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had not ar­tic­u­lated a legally jus­ti­fi­able rea­son for im­pos­ing the man­date. The ad­min­is­tra­tion could, for in­stance, have paid for the con­tro­ver­sial ser­vices with its own sub­sidy, rather than forc­ing in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies to be­come com­plicit. “The govern­ment has no real re­sponse to this ar­gu­ment,” said Judge Sykes. “It has not made any ef­fort to ex­plain how the con­tra­cep­tion man­date is the least re­stric­tive means of fur­ther­ing its stated goals of pro­mot­ing pub­lic health and gen­der equal­ity.”

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Se­be­lius have no an­swer; they seem to be far less in­ter­ested in pub­lic health than in fun­da­men­tally trans­form­ing the coun­try. Forc­ing po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents to com­pro­mise deeply held be­liefs is an ef­fec­tive way to de­mor­al­ize those who, as Mr. Obama once de­scribed them, “cling to guns or re­li­gion.”

The 7th Cir­cuit Court is­sued a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion that halts the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan, at least for now. Ul­ti­mately, the is­sue will re­turn to the Supreme Court where Chief Jus­tice John Roberts, who saved Oba­macare once, will have a chance to do the right thing, and do what the Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.