The recent Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate for preventive services under President Obama’s health care law is an unprecedented assault on religious liberty. The mandate forces many religious employers to either contradict their faith by providing and paying for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization in violation of their deeply
Because the health care law forces employers to provide and individuals to obtain health insurance that meets the government’s definition of “qualified” health care, the HHS mandate and future federal benefits mandates like it are inescapable. Non-exempted employers—religious or not—are stripped of the choice to avoid the services mandated under Obamacare without facing penalties. To protect religious liberty and ensure the respect of individual freedom, the mandate must be rescinded and Obamacare must be repealed.
Obamacare’s Assault on Religious Freedom
The HHS mandate forces almost all employers to provide health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization, regardless of the employers’ moral or religious objections to such services. The rule includes an extremely narrow religious exemption: The organization must hold a nonprofit tax status, have as its primary focus the “inculcation of religious values” (i.e., teaching or preaching doctrine), employ individuals who share its core religious beliefs, and primarily serve co-religionists or people who share the same beliefs.
This unprecedented narrowing of the definition of “religious employer” effectively applies only to formal houses of worship. Religious organizations that hold moral objections to abortion and contraception—such as some religious hospitals, schools, and other social service organizations—do not qualify for the exemption. held beliefs or face federal penalties. The Obama Administration has effectively put a fine on faith.
The Fine for Non-Compliance
Under the Public Health Services Act and the Internal Revenue Code, an employer that offers a health plan that does not conform to federal insurance benefits requirements could face a federal fine. This penalty can be levied on a non-exempted religious employer that offers a plan that is not in compliance with the preventive services package and other requirements under Obamacare—including the HHS mandate. The fine, imposed through a civil penalty or excise tax, could be as high as $100 a day for each employee receiving a health insurance plan that fails to comply with federal law.
For example, a non-exempted, nonprofit organization with 100 employees, each of whom receives a health insurance plan that does not comply with federal law, could see a $3.65 million annual fine.