Obamacare Mandate Could Mean Steep Fines for Employers who Freely Exercise Their Religion

February 28, 2012

The First Amendment ensures that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the exercise of religion. These protections have been reaffirmed by Congress and upheld by the courts throughout the history of our nation. However, a recent regulation imposed by the Obama administration turns that history on its head by requiring organizations, including religious organizations, to procure and pay for services that violate their religious and moral beliefs. The mandate sparked an outcry from across the ideological spectrum, and in response, the administration developed what it describes as an "accommodation" for religious employers. But leading voices continue to object to this policy. The president's health care law is not just a series of mandates, but also corresponding punishments for individuals or employers that do not comply with the litany of new rules. So what happens if employers adhere to their religious beliefs and moral convictions and choose not to provide coverage that violates their conscience?
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Even with the Obama administration's so called "accommodation," employers could face a steep fine if they fail to comply with the mandate. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report requested by the House Energy and Commerce Committee,-- "A group health plan that fails to comply with the pertinent requirements in the IRC may be subject to a tax of $100 for each day in the noncompliance period with respect to each individual to whom such failure relates."
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Consequently, for example, if a self-insured religious charity or hospital with 100 employees chooses to exercise its religious rights instead of complying with the Obamacare mandate, it could be subject to a $3.65 million annual fine.
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Implementing a federal mandate that violates the conscience of an individual or organization, regardless of their religious affiliation or organizational purpose, is in direct violation with the First Amendment. Imposing a fine on these individuals pours salt in the wound.
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