Tuesday the administration heralded the implementation of eight facets of Obamacare’s preventative-care coverage for women, the contraceptive mandate among them.
“President Obama is moving our country forward by giving women control over their health care,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions.”
The new regulations require all insurance companies to cover well-woman visits, gestational diabetes screenings, domestic and interpersonal violence counseling, FDA-approved contraception, breastfeeding supplies, HPV DNA testing, sexually transmitted infection counseling, and HIV testing without additional co-pays. The rules take effect at the following insurance renewal date on or after Wednesday.
Religious freedom advocates have been distraught by the requirement to cover contraceptive services, as some religions, notably the Catholic Church, have beliefs that conflict with the mandate.
HHS contends that certain non-profit religious organizations such as churches and schools are not required to cover the services. Non-exempt employers that have religious objections, which do not comply will be penalized. According to the Congressional Research Service employers who do not comply could be hit with a federal tax of $100 per-day-per-employee.
Nebraska Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who was elected in 2004, will join freshmen GOP House members to mark the “The Day Religious Freedom Died” in the House Triangle Wednesday. In an interview with The Daily Caller on the eve of the mandate’s implementation, Fortenberry explained that although the day will come and pass, there will be long-term implications.
“The day is significant in that it represents a deep affront to one of our most honored traditions, that of the rights to conscience, as well as religious liberty,” Fortenberry said. “The government is asking people to choose: follow your deeply held religious beliefs or obey this edict and that is a false choice. It is un-American, it is unjust, it is unnecessary, it again violates a deeply held traditional principle of the rights of conscience and liberty in our country that were operative in our country until this new health care law came along.”