The most baffling thing about Obamacare’s new contraception mandate is why it is necessary at all.
Agree or disagree, one at least could understand if President Obama used Obamacare’s brass knuckles to beat insurance companies into covering some new-but-exorbitant drug that prevented Americans from suddenly succumbing to a rare, highly fatal disease. While there are more attractive alternatives to federal brute force, no one wants to see people drop dead for lack of a pill or powder.
But Obama’s mandate on Catholic institutions and other faith-based organizations involves precisely none of this.
The mandate originally ordered these groups to pay for contraceptives and even abortifacients via their employees’ health-insurance plans. After an enormous controversy erupted, Obama on Friday unveiled an “accommodation” in which he snatched the bill for contraceptives from the Catholic organizations, wrestled insurance companies to the ground, and then stuffed the birth-control bill into their pockets.
“Women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraception, no matter where they work,” Obama barked. However, “the insurance company — not the hospital, not the charity — will be required to reach out and offer . . . contraceptive care free, without co-pays and without hassles.”
Insurance companies must have been startled to find themselves at the muzzle end of federal police power. They now face a brand-new, unfunded mandate whose costs they surely will pass along to their entire clientele, thus boosting the insurance rates that Obamacare was supposed to reduce.
Utterly perplexing in all of this is why Team Obama ever saw this regulation as necessary.
Is any adult American female unable to secure birth-control pills if she wants them? Is there even one American woman who cannot walk, bike, ride a bus, or ask a loved one or neighbor to drive her to a local drug store to pick up the Pill, contraceptive foam, intra-uterine devices, or other birth-control products?
And if any woman happens to be insured by a Catholic organization or other anti-birth-control group, is it too much to ask her either to find contraceptive coverage elsewhere or go work somewhere that offers such insurance?
Here is another idea: American women who lack birth-control coverage can buy it themselves. BirthControl.com offers one-month supplies of popular pills and patches for roughly $35 to $50. Are American women without contraceptive insurance incapable of salting away $50 per month to enjoy pregnancy-free sex with the men in their lives? Given the joys of sex, is $1.66 per day an unbearable burden requiring massive federal intervention?
“Emergency contraception” pills, such as Plan B and Next Choice run from $35 to $60. This is costlier than cough drops, but hardly a sum that demands Santa Obama’s involvement.
And if even these sums are too high, Planned Parenthood operates about 800 women’s health centers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Its staffers are eager to help women prevent and even terminate pregnancies. Planned Parenthood prices its services on a sliding scale. Low-income women pay less than those with heavier purses. Why must Obama compete with Planned Parenthood?
One of the most pernicious aspects of this “accommodation” is that Obama ordered insurance companies to provide free contraceptives for all fertile women. Not poor women. Not just the 99 percent. But all women.
Why is Obama forcing insurance companies to give complimentary contraceptives to women among the much maligned 1 percent? Are heiresses and female hedge-fund managers suddenly incapable of buying their own IUDs? Shouldn’t insurance companies instead devote their finite resources to pre-natal care for poor pregnant women? Nope. Those dollars now must underwrite free diaphragms for bond traders at Goldman Sachs.
Also, why these Herculean efforts for “women’s health”? Doesn’t it still take two to tango? What about men’s health?
Any American man who studies on a Catholic campus — or works for a Catholic or other faith-based organization that does not cover contraception — is on his own. While Obama rushes to the mattresses to assure that every American female gets the Pill and perhaps even tubal ligation gratis, men are expected to pay for condoms, vasectomies, and the male pill (as soon as it is perfected) out of their own wallets. How sexist.
More than anything else, the issue here is mandates. If Obama gets away with this, why could he not compel, say, Gay Men’s Health Crisis to counsel heterosexual women on achieving or avoiding pregnancy? GMHC might prefer to help gay men address myriad medical matters. Obama, however, simply could reply: “Never mind. I know best. So, hop to it.”
And if Obama is reelected, what would stop him from directing Catholic hospitals to to perform abortions, fund them, or make their insurers do so? While this sounds crazy, it is not a flying leap from Obama’s current order that insurers of Catholic institutions’ employees must finance drugs that abort very young human embryos.
This entire imbroglio encapsulates Obamism: Mandates, higher costs, phony compromises, and pandering to particular constituencies for votes.
This whole affair sickens even a godless, Manhattan-based heathen like me. Obamacare fuels all of this, which is one more argument for its repeal. Step one in repealing Obamacare is to repeal Barack Obama next November 6.
— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.