This article first appeared in the Daily Journal on January 27, 2012.
In its attempt to modify the basic structure of our nation’s health care system, President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act has understandably caused a series of rifts between competing factions within the health care industry. As the entire nation waits to discover its ultimate fate, the fledgling program continues to promote conflict as it experiences growing pains, exemplified by recent modifications to federal regulations that push the invisible line separating church and state from a health care perspective. With an eye to the future, the Affordable Care Act must move cautiously in its attempt to revamp the foundations of health care, fending not only for its survival in the political arena, but in terms of constitutionality as well.
At its core, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (known colloquially as the “Affordable Care Act” or “health care reform”), promotes preventative measures designed in theory to eliminate health issues before they start. With such a sweeping directive, it is certainly understandable that constitutional challenges abound within, yet two of the more recent and most highly publicized concerns stand at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a brief news release detailing a controversial August 2011 interim final rule that was specifically created to require health insurance plans to cover preventative services for women, including contraceptives, without charging a co-pay, co-insurance, or deductible. Under this interim final rule, however, certain non-profit religious employers retained the option to omit contraceptive services from their employee insurance plan. Announced last week, the final decision now guarantees that women with health insurance as of Aug. 1, will be allowed access to all federally recommended preventative services, including contraception measures approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. … Read more →