David Letterman is known for welcoming "stupid pet tricks" to his late night show. President Obama on Friday tried what critics call "a cheap accounting trick." By doing so he accommodated the political needs of his Democratic Catholic supporters but did not assuage those with goals larger than the next election.
As an open letter by five authors including Mary Ann Glendon and Robert George noted:
"It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying 'five day after pill' pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer. It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer. What matters is what services the policy covers."
That letter has already gained numerous co-signers-among them are evangelical university and seminary presidents Bob Sloan, Al Mohler, Daniel Akin, David Dockery, and Carl Zylstra. They agree, "It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept an assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick."
I have two questions. First, why is it that insurance plans require co-pays on some essential life-saving drugs but we always hear that contraceptives and abortion pills must not have co-pays? Second, Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times complained last week about opposition to the Obama's plan coming from hospitals, colleges, and universities that receive "a steady stream of federal dollars." If that's the justification for the Obama mandate, why does it apply to all such nonprofits whether they take government dollars or not?
What might a real accommodation look like? How about one in which each individual had a medical savings account and could choose from a wide variety of insurance plans, each of which might have some things they don't cover? After all, we still sing that this is a sweet land of liberty, so why demand uniformity in insurance plans?