Members of the clergy went to Capitol Hill today to accuse the Obama administration of stepping on their turf.
The religious leaders appeared at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the the federal birth control benefits mandate recently adopted by HHS.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) requires non-grandfathered individual health insurance policies and insured group health plans to offer a standard package of preventive care benefits to all enrollees. Carriers must make the preventive care services available without requiring patients to pay any deductibles, co-payments or other cost-sharing amounts when getting those services.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius exempted houses of worship and other religious entities that mainly employ adherents of one religion from the requirement, but she said she would make other types of employers affiliated with religious organizations, such as colleges and hospitals, subject to the requirements after one year.
Last week, Sebelius changed the requirement to make group health insurers, not the employers, responsible for providing contraceptive benefits for employees of employers that object to the idea of providing the benefits on religious grounds.
The HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), one of the organizations responsible for helping HHS develop the preventive care package, recommended the mandate, arguing that it could help improve the quality of health care and reduce state, federal and local health care spending by preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, a faculty members at Yeshivah University, argued that the new compromise is not a real compromise.
“The religious organizations would still be obligated to provide employees with an insurance policy that facilitates acts violating the organization’s religious tenets,” Soloveichik said.