Monday, November 21, 2011

President Obama to Consider Health Care Policy That is Neither Good for Health Care or Good for Politics

Why does Mr. Obama Make It So Hard to Support Him

The unhappiness of many independent and Democratic voters with the President comes from the fact that Mr. Obama does not seem to be passionate about his beliefs.  In fact that strongest belief that Mr. Obama supports seems to be that he can compromise and appease his critics.  The failures of the Obama administration can be tied directly to his attempts to develop a consensus with those who oppose a consensus, will not compromise and hate the President with an unappeasable passion.

Now the report is that Mr. Obama is considering changing the policy that requires employer health care plans to provide for contraceptive support when that employer serves the general public or has diverse employees even if contraception violates the religious or moral beliefs of the employer.  The logic of such a position is sound,  employers serving or employing the general public should not be able to force their religious beliefs onto their employees.

The rules already include an exemption for certain “religious employers,” but the exemption is so narrow that some church groups say it is almost meaningless. A religious employer cannot qualify for the exemption if it employs or serves large numbers of people of a different faith, as many Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies do.

This is current policy, as well it should be.  Working for a religious sponsored organization providing services to the public should not require adhering to that religion’s tenets.  This does not violate freedom of religion, it supports the position that one religion cannot force its beliefs onto others, which is the very foundation of freedom of religion.

But after protests by Roman Catholic bishops, charities, schools and universities, the White House is considering a change that would grant a broad exemption to health plans sponsored by employers who object to such coverage for moral and religious reasons.

Churches may already qualify for an exemption. The proposal being weighed by the White House would expand the exemption to many universities, hospitals, clinics and other entities associated with religious organizations.

A change in the policy is bad health care.  If the goal of policy is to protect women’s health and to reduce the number of abortions, providing low cost access to contraception is primary tool for accomplishing that objective.  Prevention of an unplanned pregnancy is prevention of a potential abortion, and even though health care for women has advanced tremendously, the birth of a child is still a danger to the health of the baby and the mother, so any prevention of an unwanted pregnancy serves the public good.

Family planning help is also good politics.  While contraception is opposed by many religious officials, it is clear from the usage of contraception that a large number of women who are part of congregations of those religions practice family planning with contraception.  They will not oppose the current policy. 

Mr. Obama, as a pro-choice President will never, ever appease his critics.  Even if he changes the policy on contraception, the religious officials and Conservatives who oppose him will still oppose him.  He seems to fail to learn the lesson, no matter how many times it is administered, that he cannot compromise with people for whom compromise is surrender. 

Given the quality (or lack thereof) of the opposition to Mr. Obama, should he lose the 2012 election, he has no one to blame but himself.  Changing policy will severely alienate his supporters

The prospect of such a change has infuriated many Democrats in Congress, who fought hard to secure coverage of birth control under the new health care law. . . .

Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, said the broad exemption was “an outrageous idea.”

“Millions of women work for colleges, hospitals and health care systems that are nominally religious, but these folks use birth control and need coverage,” said Ms. DeGette, a leader of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus.

A change would be admirable if it were for a good cause, but a change that reduces rather than increases health care and religious freedom can only be detrimental to the President, as well it should be.

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