All Commentary
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The “Accommodation” that Changes Nothing

Catholic institutions sue Obama over birth control mandate –USA Today

But what about the “accommodation” President Obama has put forth? You judge:

Scenario: A woman who works for a Catholic hospital walks into a pharmacy and fills her birth-control prescription. The pharmacy files the claim with her employer’s insurance company. The insurance company pays the pharmacy.

Question: Is this a description of a transaction taking place before or after Obama’s “accommodation” to the Catholic objection to being forced to pay for contraception?

Answer: There’s no way to tell.

Possible objection: But won’t the hospital’s premiums be lower after the accommodation since it won’t be paying for contraception coverage?

Answer: Not if the Department of Health and Human Services is right. HHS says paying for contraception coverage offsets the cost of medical expenses associated with having children. Therefore there is no reason to expect a post-accommodation fall in premiums for Catholic institutions.

Bottom line: If in principle one cannot distinguish a pre-accommodation from a post-accommodation transaction, there is no accommodation at all. The grand compromise is a sham.

Hat tip: Mario Rizzo

  • Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families and thousands of articles.