13 state attorneys general ask HHS for religious freedom protection

Attorneys general from 13 states have signed a letter addressed to HHS Secretary Sebelius, requesting greater protection of religious freedom under Obamacare.  The attorneys general have concluded that the recent changes and “accommodations” proposed by the Obama administration do not, in fact, accommodate religious organizations and do not address the concerns of private business owners or religious organizations.

The text of the letter is here.

The highlights:

First, there is no compelling reason to refuse to extend to all religious-affiliated nonprofits the exception that is available to houses of worship. RFRA requires the federal government to demonstrate that the compelling-interest test is satisfied through application of the challenged law “‘to the person’—the particular claimant whose sincere exercise of religion is being substantially burdened.”

 

Second, the purported accommodation to allow certain nonprofits to shift costs onto insurance companies appears to be a shell game that does not alleviate the burden on the exercise of religion. We all know that insurance companies do not provide anything for free; the employers are still going to be paying for these services through increased premiums or otherwise even if the insurance company technically covers those products through a separate “free” policy.

 

Third, the government must provide a meaningful exception to the HHS mandate for for-profit business owners who object on conscience grounds, but the proposed regulations fail to address for-profit organizations at all.

 

These states’ attorneys general signed the letter:

Alabama * Colorado * Florida * Georgia * Idaho * Kansas * Montana
Nebraska * Ohio * Oklahoma * South Carolina * Texas * West Virginia

 

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