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June 29, 2012

What to Expect Post-ObamaCare Ruling

IPI expert referenced: Merrill Matthews | In The News | Media Hit

By Bill Bumpas and Charlie Butts

A spokesman for the Christian Medical Association is disappointed and alarmed by the Supreme Court ruling yesterday to uphold ObamaCare. But as The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty points out, other lawsuits against HHS mandates will continue in federal courts.

Dr. Gene Rudd, senior vice president of the Christian Medical Association (CMA), says the high court decision basically endorses the healthcare law, which will lead to a severe encroachment on the rights of conscience and the exercise of religion.

"By the court not making the decision to send this back as being unconstitutional, it allows to stand what Congress has put in place," he summarizes. "And what Congress has put in place then allows the branches of government to come in, and it allows Health and Human Services (HHS), for example, to come in and decide what a religious organization is."

And Dr. Rudd reports that HHS is now saying some faith-based groups do not qualify for an exemption.

"A Catholic hospital is going to be forced to do sterilizations and provide abortifacient drugs against their convictions or … go about of business," he warns. But that is a consequence of the court not overruling the individual mandate.

With justices ruling that the insurance mandate is a tax, the CMA senior vice president adds that some of the citizens' individual freedoms have been given to the government.

But a spokesperson and attorney for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty asserts that other lawsuits against HHS mandates in ObamaCare will continue in federal courts. Hannah Smith's firm considers yesterday's Supreme Court decision a narrow one. But some issues, she says, have not been addressed. (Listen to audio report)

"Our cases are about whether -- once Congress has passed this law -- can the provisions, specifically the HHS mandate, withstand First Amendment scrutiny," Smith details.

In other words, The Becket Fund is concerned about mandates to provide free insurance coverage for contraception, the "morning-after" pill and sterilization, even though that might violate one's faith.

"'Even if the taxing power enables Congress to impose a tax on not obtaining health insurance, any tax must still comply with other requirements in the Constitution,'" Smith quotes from Chief Justice Roberts' ObamaCare opinion. "So, in other words he's saying that Congress may have the authority to penalize organizations that refuse to comply with its mandates, but any of those penalties will be struck down if they violate other requirements in the Constitution, such as the First Amendment," which provides for freedom of religion.

The Becket Fund and the Alliance Defense Fund are representing clients in many of the 23 lawsuits filed to challenge the mandates. Those are all set to go forward.

A health policy expert says the Supreme Court chief justice went out of his way to hand President Obama a victory on his healthcare law, which was "the worst possible of all outcomes." (Listen to audio report)

Dr. Merrill Matthews, resident scholar at The Institute for Policy Innovation, says John Roberts saved the president's "bacon" by siding with the four liberal justices and upholding most of ObamaCare, including the individual mandate, as constitutional under Congress' taxing powers.

"I think it's a sad day for the Constitution because he allowed the Congress to do something that they didn't claim they were trying to do initially," Dr. Matthews notes. "So, here's the worst part of it -- under this, the Democrats were able to say we did not pass a tax increase for the purpose of reelection, but get it all implemented on the virtue of it being a tax increase. That's sort of the worst of all possible outcomes."

On the other hand, the scholar believes this decision will help unify conservatives under GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"There have been a lot of people … on the more conservative side who were not that excited about Romney," he says. "I think this decision will energize them in ways they might not have been otherwise. And if the mandate is a tax, it becomes the largest tax increase in U.S. History."

Though the high court upheld ObamaCare, Dr. Matthews concludes that November will reveal what the public thinks about it.


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