White House “takes out the trash” in its fake HHS Mandate tweaks

On the TV series The West Wing you learn about “taking out the trash”.  That is, the White House releases what might be potentially problematic news on a Friday, so that things can calm down over the weekend and other stories can drive the bad item out of the news cycle.  So, today the Obama Administration released “tweaks” to the anti-Catholic, anti-1st Amendment HHS Mandate.  It’s Friday and Hilary Clinton is stepping down as Secretary of State, there was a terrorist attack in Turkey, etc.  Get it?

So, what do the new HHS Mandate tweaks do, if anything?  First, it seems they do nothing, for this could be just a proposal of new rules.

Moreover, there are 80 pages… 80 pages… of regulations.  The Obama Administration still claims the right to determine which institutions are to be granted religious freedom.

It still does not exempt Catholic charities and Catholic universities.  It does not exempt Catholics who own businesses.

At EWTN we find this statement (in part):

We have analyzed today’s notice with our legal team from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the initial conclusions are not promising. First, this is simply a notice of a proposed rule; it is not an actual rule that changes anything. Second, while the proposed rules might expand the mandate’s religious exemption for some organizations affiliated directly with the Church, it does not appear that EWTN will qualify for this exemption. Third, the proposed rules have not dealt with the concerns of self-insured health plans like EWTN’s. Today’s notice from the government simply kicks this can further down the road.

Sadly, throughout this proposed rule, the government continues to make the erroneous assertion that contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are health care. They are not.

Apart from our interest in things Catholic, companies such as Hobby Lobby, Christian-owned, are still going to be fined into bankruptcy.  HERE.

Reminder: a pro-abortion catholic runs the HHS Department: Kathleen Sebelius.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. StJude says:

    What can be done?

  2. jhayes says:

    From William Donahue of the Catholic League, usually a good predictor of USCCB positions:

    “Bill Donohue comments on the revised rules, announced today, regarding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate:

    The rules proposed today by HHS appear to go a long way toward rectifying the most problematic provisions of the mandate. Essentially, the rules provide insularity for Catholic institutions: they will not be directly involved in providing health insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

    Perhaps the most welcome aspect of the new strictures is the elimination of the criteria that define what constitutes a religious institution. Gone altogether is the highly objectionable definition that excludes an exemption for those religious entities that hire and serve mostly people of other religions. As has been pointed out many times, this definition punishes Catholic institutions for not discriminating against Jews, Protestants, Muslims, Mormons, agnostics, and atheists.

    The new rules now simply revert to the established understanding of a religious employer as defined by the IRS. This makes eminently good sense.

    Still unresolved is the issue of private employers who invoke a religious objection to providing insurance coverage for services they deem morally objectionable. Because the new rules have not been finalized, and there is an opportunity for further public discussion, more progress may yet be made.

    While many aspects of the new proposal need to be examined before a final conclusion can be rendered, the decision to expand religious exemptions, and to adopt the IRS definition of a religious institution, is a sign of goodwill by the Obama administration toward the Catholic community.

  3. spock says:

    I have a question. Does anyone know how this is dealt with in Europe ? Are the churches in Europe forced to provide insurance “benefits” to their employees that are contrary to the natural law ? It might be instructive to understand how they deal with it.

  4. Facta Non Verba says:

    Analyses I read suggest a conclusion that Obama-care will wither on the vine, due to lack of implementation / funding / feasibility by the states. The fact is that five justices on the Court held that that the mandate under the commerce clause was unconstitutional, meaning that the Congress cannot compel US citizens to purchase a product. Of course, we know that the Court did prop up the Obama-care law by holding that the mechanism to fund Obama-care is a tax. But, the Court also struck down the part of the law that said the Feds can compel states into complying by taking away medicaid funding. Thus, a state can decline to participate in Obama-care without penalty.

    I think (hope) this law will be un-done by the next president / congress for lacking of feasibility due to the funding mechanism not being there.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    I am probably one of the very few that has actually read parts of the bill.

    No one is exempt. I do not believe a word concerning religious freedom from this government. Oddly, today, I put some sections from wiki on my blog. The timeline is chilling. Fines and other measures, such as lawsuits will follow, but the fact that the man was re-elected gives him a mandate. The devil will be in the details, such as, what qualifies for a religious institution? Is a Catholic hospital run by a board of directors exempt or only those owned and run by religious orders, and so on…………

    Why Catholics are so blind to all of this, I do not understand. Just wait until the Catholic hospital near you closes or turns into a secular institution following all the rules on so-called women’s reproductive health issues. Or is forced to confine itself to certain areas of medicine.

    December 24th, 2009, as I wrote earlier today, changed America forever.

  6. jhayes says:

    From the USCCB owned Catholic News Service

    “A brief statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the conference welcomed “the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later.” The Catholic Health Association, which represents Catholic hospitals and health care agencies, also declined to comment on the changes until they were studied.

    Others were quick to praise the proposed new rules for addressing the objections of Catholic and other entities, while some found fault with them, saying they would not resolve their objections.”


  7. Titus says:

    “First, this is simply a notice of a proposed rule; it is not an actual rule that changes anything. “

    One point of clarification. It is true that the rule is not final, in the sense that people’s actual obligations have not yet been changed and the proposed rule is not enforceable. But publishing a proposed rule is not a dodge (the way the “notice of proposed rulemaking” was). The Administrative Procedures Act requires that rules be published in preliminary or “proposed” form prior to their implementation, that they be made available to the public for a time, and that the public be given a (largely meaningless) opportunity to comment on them. So while we can agree that the administration deserves whatever fate could be devised for its members, it is not accurate to say that they have done something underhanded simply by publishing a proposed rule.

  8. jhayes says:

    “No one is exempt”

    These are exempt from providing contraception coverage in their employee and student health insurance:

    1. “Religious Employers”
    2. “Non-Profit Religious Organizations”

    “The simple definition of “religious employer” for purposes of the exemption would follow a section of the Internal Revenue Code, and would primarily include churches, other houses of worship, and their affiliated organizations, as defined by Section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii)

    This proposed change is intended to clarify that a house of worship would not be excluded from the exemption because, for example, it provides charitable social services to persons of different religious faiths or employs persons of different religious faiths. The Departments believe that this proposal would not expand the universe of employer plans that would qualify for the exemption beyond that which was intended in the 2012 final rules.

    Creating Accommodations for Non Profit Religious Organizations

    Consistent with the Advance NPRM, the NPRM proposes accommodations for additional non profit religious organizations, while also separately providing enrollees contraceptive coverage with no co-pays. An eligible organization would be defined as an organization that:

    – opposes providing coverage for some or all of any contraceptive services required to be covered under Section 2713 of the PHS Act, on account of religious objections;
    – is organized and operates as a nonprofit entity;
    – holds itself out as a religious organization; and
    – self-certifies that it meets these criteria and specifies the contraceptive services for which it objects to providing coverage.


  9. Titus says:

    P.S. – People who want a good, thoughtful analysis of the legal issues at stake should keep tabs on what Rick Garnett publishes at Mirror of Justice. Prof. Garnett has his head on straight.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    So an order of nuns would not have to go by the rules for the nuns. But, most if not all employers would. EWTN makes it clear the religious exemption rules would not apply to them…..

  11. Supertradmum says:


    Socialist nations have national health care and religious organizations do not provide it, the government does. In England, one may opt to go into private health care, and it is excellent but very expensive. I pay 50 pounds per visit without a check up. And, my meds are about 120 pounds per month for two prescriptions on private health, as I have to go private.

    Same with Malta. I pay as I go if private. Everyone else who is a resident and or citizen gets it all through the national health system.

  12. mammamia says:

    DOESn’T anybody get it yet? Good grief. They WANT the Catholic Hospitals to say no, and the Bishops to threaten to close them, as then they will swoop in and take them over stating it is a matter of Natl Security that they remain open. Then POOF, govt run hospitals overnight, AND THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO BUILD IT! But hey, at this point what difference does it make? 

    What infuriates me above all, is that they using women to decimate the First Amendment. It’s Eve all over again. Oh goody, I’ll get free birth control and abortions, to hell with the effects on everyone else’s true freedoms. 

    What a disgrace, the true feminist movement, which made great strides for women in gaining respect for us through hard work  and education, has been demolished by these scumbags-how are women to expect to be respected when they had to whine to big-daddy govt to secure free birth control and abortifacients? It’s pathetic! 

    Today’s generation, with the majority lacking the capacity to think critically, and little understanding of true liberty and the blood that was honorably shed to procure the best earthly-available version of it, are willy-nilly  tossing it all away to “save” $5.00 a month? Insanity, stupidity, insatiable power-grabbing, and oh never mind, I  could go on but I am too disgusted!!!  ARGH!!!  Where’s my Rosary?  I am going to pray for the bimbo-women that they wake up and realize how badly mistaken they are that this somehow “empowers” them-it is quite the opposite! 

  13. Supertradmum says:

    It is not this present young generation, small in number and many who did not vote, who re-elected this man for president, giving him a carte blanche mandate, but Gen Xers, Latinos (75%), Catholics.

    If we are undermined and pushed out of medical care entirely as a Church, the priests and bishops who did not take a stand in 2008 and 2012 have themselves to blame, as well as Catholics, who can read. They all could have done what a little old lay woman did in 2004-07 in Illinois and look up and follow someone’s voting record.

    All we needed to know was there before Dec. 2009. Catholic culture and identity depend on Catholic institutions as we are a visible Church. Just wait for the next step…the civil union debacle, to create an even more anti-Catholic atmosphere. Really, it amazes me that people wring their hands now when they could have used their hands for politicking in 2008. The steam roller will not be stopped unless, all of the sudden, the GOP come up with a charismatic and brilliant leader. But that is, in American terms, a long way off, highly improbable, if there is even an election, and all these stages of obamacare will have been put in place by then.

    I spent hours, as did Fr. Z, Doctor Sanity and others, writing against this man and his plans in 2008. Where were the bishops, the priests, and the silent Catholics? I am still estranged from my entire Democrat family because of this man. It is obvious to me who is the one who causes chaos, destruction and wants control, just to feed the fires of hell and is the one who hates the Church and uses whatever sad puppets who want to be in control for a very short time. Eternity is much longer.

  14. mammamia says:

    S-mum, chaos reigns. I know parents of children with Type1 Diabetes, (NOT the type from being overweight, they need insulin throughout the day or they are very quickly DEAD, so the insulin is the highest form of “preventative care”) and their costs are going UP. The new medical device tax is driving up the cost of the critical meters and test strips, needles etc. that are go along with dosing and delivering the insulin. Additionally, the insulin itself has a 5x higher copay than birth control pills. 

    So really, if you consider that they are unmoved by this lifesaving need for ex-utero children, and their lust to terminate intrauterine children, this is a war on children, not, as they have very cleverly and successfully spewed, “a war on women.” 

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  16. catholicmidwest says:

    Spock, it varies from country to country. Some of the ways it’s handled, frankly, would discourage you a lot. Europe is no longer generally Catholic, as it once was.

  17. catholicmidwest says:

    Correct Cathy. This is not better. What they did was put all the parish employees in the same bucket as the non-profits, but waived the fee for the non-profits providing they can keep the status “non-taxable” through the IRS. Now what the government has is a giant hammer over the heads of parishes not to preach on certain topics or they might lose their “non-taxable” status from the IRS. This is NOT BETTER.

  18. LisaP. says:

    They are trying to peel off the Catholics. The bishops give the fight against them credibility and they have money and a voice, they want the bishops to take the deal and throw all the other people of conscience who will go out of business rather than comply under the bus.

    God help us all if it works. If the bishops give in on this one, after making such a big stink — if they are o.k. with everyone else losing freedom as long as the masters give them the nod — it will indicate the Church in America is corrupted beyond anything we have ever seen in history.

    Peter denied Christ, but it was only a weak moment. Our weak moment has lasted far, far too long. Bishops, don’t do this.

  19. LisaP. says:

    It horrifies me to think that the premiums I pay are going to go up, even by a penny, to pay for someone else’s free contraception when I’m paying $275 a month to insure my kid and about $220 a month out of pocket after deductible for her supplies. She’s six. She gets insulin instead of Disney Land, that’s life. But the idea that some gal out there feels she needs to get free recreational sex on my dime — totally through the looking glass.
    Sad, sad thing is how many parents of kids with Type 1 supported the health care reforms, chronic disease is so incredibly expensive (because of the system the government and corporations have engineered together) that they are broke, tired, and sick and will believe any snake oil pitch they are sold. All they want is relief. What they will get is higher costs, poorer care, and no turning back.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    LisaP, you said, “it will indicate the Church in America is corrupted beyond anything we have ever seen in history.”

    Agree if what you’re talking about is Catholic history in America. But historically and globally, the Church has at times been in very bad condition, probably worse than this, and it’s survived. Recall the Arian controversy, among others. Right now in Germany, a situation exists called the Kirchensteuer, which is pretty much as bad as what we have right now. I don’t know what to tell you. These things come and go. Catholics need to stand firm in the deposit of faith and not let this kind of nonsense get to us too badly.

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  22. LisaP. says:

    Thanks, yes, my study of history actually has pulled me back from the edge at times, knowing that things have often been very bad. But I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything quite like, “Yes, I will support a plan that will force people to pay to kill other peoples’ children as long as we don’t have to do it ourselves.” I feel as if I’m in the position of receiving communion from a man whose hands are still bloody from murder — if Christ is truly there, no matter the sin of the priest to me in that. But I will be horrified both at having to receive that way and at having to see Christ in such hands.

    Maybe if we had fallen short of abortion it would seem more cloudy, but either this is the taking of innocent human life or it is not. I note the American Church, as an aside, only because it is all I know well. I hope the rest of the world is in better shape, but I’m not surprised that large parts fell into the mire long ago.

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