Obamacare's Controversial Drug Mandate Puts More Health Plans at Risk

Two lawsuits against the Obamacare regulation known as the "contraceptive mandate" are slated for Supreme Court review. But neither has anything to do with contraception.

The families who run Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are Evangelical Christian and Mennonite, respectively. They are not Catholic and they have no religious objection to providing contraception in their employee health plans.

But as the pleadings in their cases explain, they do have moral and religious objections to providing coverage for drugs and devices that can cause the death of living human embryos. Specifically, they have gone to court to seek relief from having to provide coverage for two types of IUDs and the drugs known as "Plan B" and "Ella."

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And what is their fate if they dutifully cover sixteen of the contraceptives required by the mandate but not these four? Obamacare will fine them $100 per employee per day. For Hobby Lobby, which employs 13,000 Americans, that's a payment of $1.3 million dollars to the federal government every day. Forever. Or as long as they provide healthcare to their employees.

Alternatively, Obamacare allows them to drop insurance coverage for their employee's altogether and face the smaller fine of $2,500 per employee per year. And that is why the mandate is a threat to health plans.

Media types who defend Obamacare roll their eyes at Hobby Lobby: these items were approved by the Food and Drug Administration under the category of "contraceptive," end of discussion.

But these drugs and devices are controversial to a great many Americans, not just to the families who run Hobby Lobby and Contestoga Wood. Any cursory review of the literature surrounding them will show that.

And now, even Obama's lawyers acknowledge it. Buried in the pleadings filed by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli in the Hobby Lobby case is a quiet, but meaningful concession: that these devices and drugs may prevent human embryos from implanting in their mother's wombs (See Government's brief asking the Supreme Court for review, page 10, footnote 5.).

Why is implantation significant? Biologically speaking, it isn't. At implantation, the new human embryo already has been in existence for as many as 10 days, its full complement of DNA in place, and its first heartbeat just another 10 days away.

But implantation is essential to an embryo's continued life: If the embryo does not implant, it will die. A drug or device that prevents it from implanting will cause its death. That's not Hobby Lobby's opinion, that's a fact. And it's a concern for millions of Americans, including business owners who are obliged to provide coverage for them or pay crippling fines.

The Obamacare mandate puts the jobs, livelihoods, and healthcare of millions of Americans at risk. More Americans are coming to understand that. A recent WPA Opinion Research poll found that 59 percent of likely voters oppose the mandate, including 56 percent of likely women voters.

Why did the Obama team include these particular drugs and devices in the mandate, knowing it would cause a crisis for so many Americans? Perhaps it is part of a larger plan.

When Roe v. Wade nullified all state limitations to abortion, abortion-rights supporters wanted more. Not just legal abortion, but free abortion for low-income women, funded by the American taxpayer.

Legislatively, abortion-rights groups have only been able to get tax-funded abortions in the narrow cases of life endangerment or rape. And despite half a dozen trips to the Supreme Court, they have never been able to convince the justices that the federal government must provide free abortions to indigent women in order to effectuate their constitutional right to abortion.

Tax-funded elective abortion is a goal that has eluded "pro-choice" groups for decades. But Obamacare has brought them significantly closer to their goal. The "contraceptive mandate" provides free embryo-killing drugs and devices to all women, courtesy of the federal government, through a law that shows no regard for the moral concerns of millions of Americans.

All Americans, including job creators, should be free to live and work according to their beliefs. But the Obamacare mandate forces some Americans to make a choice: to violate their principles and comply with the law, or to stand up for their civil rights and be punished. No government should force that choice on its citizens.

Ultimately, the people who will be hurt most by the Obamacare mandate are the working Americans who will see their names added to the growing list of people who have lost their health insurance.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq. is a senior legal fellow at the Family Research Council.

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