Local and national responses to the decision
By MICHELLE DELANEY, Globe staff reporter
The United States Supreme Court issued a decision on June 28 upholding the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan.
This decision defends the act’s conditions in which federal funds are used to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions. The HHS mandate will also require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. In addition, the mandate will not allow undocumented immigrants to purchase healthcare.
In relation to the Supreme Court decision, Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City called a press conference in which Robert J. Peebles, president and CEO at Mercy, addressed the hospital’s stance on the recent decision.
“HHS, as a part of this law, has indicated that even though we are a religious organization, we will have to provide contraceptive services to our associates who work here. It is inconsistent with our beliefs as a Catholic organization,” said Peebles.
Peebles went on to say that, the hospital will continue to work with legislators and regulators to get a larger exception to cover hospitals. The hospital has already done some private diplomacy and has sent comment letters to HHS indicating their disagreement with the mandate.
“We’ve enjoyed that exception in the past. This recent change is inconsistent with our moral teachings,” said Peebles. “We are hopeful that we can work out some resolution in the near future that respects the values we live by.”
As explained by Peebles, Mercy is doing more behind the scenes work on opposing the HHS mandate and they are letting the bishops take the main stage in challenging key points of the mandate.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) argue that the federal mandate issued by the Obama administration violates their fundamental religious liberty.
In response to the June 28 decision, the USCCB issued a statement articulating their opposition to the mandate. They expressed their wish for comprehensive health care that secures “life-affirming” health care to all, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
The USCCB stated in a press release that, “the Supreme Court decision does not address the fundamental flaws in the law. Legislation is still needed to fix conscience, abortion funding and immigration problems.”
Their opposition to the ACA is rooted in the acts allowing federal funds to pay for elective abortions, the “preventive services” directive that forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs and ACA’s failure to treat undocumented immigrant workers and their families.
“ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. This undermines the Act’s goal of promoting access to basic-life affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need,” explained the USCCB.
Even though the Act was upheld on June 28, the USCCB does not plan to secede from their work in opposing the HHS mandate.
“The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described. We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.”
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