New Committee Report Examines How Obamacare Mandates Infringe on Religious Liberty

June 21, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today released a staff report entitled, “The Fight to Preserve Religious Liberty: Obamacare’s Assault on a Founding Touchstone of the United States of America.” The report outlines the current status of pending litigation related to requirements in the health care law that have drawn widespread criticism for infringing on religious liberty, and also details federal “fines on faith” that could be imposed on employers that exercise their conscience by refusing to pay for services that violate their beliefs – penalties totaling millions of dollars.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide a full range of contraceptive services regardless of moral or religious objections. The mandate was delayed for a year for certain ministerial organizations, but they too will be subject to the mandate beginning in August. As a result, religious employers, both non-profit and for-profit, will be forced to violate their conscience. Currently more than 60 organizations are suing the federal government on First Amendment and statutory grounds.

The report states, “Given the administration’s refusal to respect conscience, what James Madison called ‘the most sacred of all property,’ individuals have had to seek relief through the courts. Conestoga Wood Specialties, established in 1964 by the Hahn family in East Earl, Pennsylvania, is just one of the many victims of the HHS mandate and attack on religious freedom. The family-owned business is run by practicing Mennonite Christians who now face potential fines of up to $34 million per year from the federal government just for practicing their faith.”

The report also explains why the Obama administration’s “accommodation” does not work. “Many employers act directly as the insurer for employees under a self-insurance arrangement where they directly pay medical claims. In this instance, employers would still be forced to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception in violation of their conscience. Secondly, employers who buy health coverage from an insurer would be forced to subsidize the cost of services that they object to in the form of higher premiums.”

The report concludes, “Religious freedom is a touchstone of the United States of America and was the impetus behind our nation’s establishment. Unfortunately, due to the misguided actions of the Obama administration, for some Americans like the Hahn family in Pennsylvania, practicing personal religious freedom will now be considered federal crime and the penalties could be in the millions of dollars. This attack on religious liberty violates the very principles our nation was founded on and cannot stand.” 

Read “The Fight to Preserve Religious Liberty: Obamacare’s Assault on a Founding Touchstone of the United States of America” online here.