February 17, 2012 8:24AM

Mandates in Practice: the Flap over Contraception Coverage

First, President Obama requires church‐​affiliated employers to offer insurance that covers contraception. When that’s properly challenged as a violation of religious liberty, the administration offers a supposed compromise that essentially shifts the burden to the insurance industry: the church‐​affiliated employer is off the hook, but its insurer has to provide coverage—and can’t charge for it. That’s right: private companies must provide free insurance for services that Obama’s HHS secretary has repeatedly called a major financial burden.

Government by fiat: to solve a First Amendment religious freedom problem that the president himself created, he orders private companies to offer contraception coverage at zero premium.

Then we’re treated to the nonsensical and unsupported assertion that insurers will save money in the long run because they won’t have to pay for pregnancies that contraception would have prevented. In other words, executives running a multi‐​billion dollar industry—until they were enlightened by HHS bureaucrats—were too stupid to realize that providing free contraception to everybody costs less than pregnancies by individuals who (a) had childbirth coverage, but (b) not contraception coverage, and (c) would have used contraception, but (d) didn’t, because (e) they couldn’t afford to. Of course, that’s just baloney. What’s really at work, as Charles Krauthammer has aptly characterized it, is breathtaking arrogation of power by the feds: a Washington, D.C. takeover of our private health care system.