EXTRA: Hobby Lobby and the ACA


Leonard Zwelling

         It is undoubtedly true that we are about to be subjected to
a news cycle or two about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to allow privately
held companies to NOT provide full birth control coverage as mandated in the
Affordable Care Act when the companies object to these provisions on religious

I have agreed with this position as I am very concerned when the government
tells private citizens what to do in running their own companies. My competing qualms
stem from the fact that the logic used by Hobby Lobby to not provide some forms
of birth control could be used to discriminate against minorities in
hiring. If I understand what I just read, a private Christian firm can be made to hire
Jews and African-Americans but cannot be made to provide their employees with
certain forms of birth control as part of their employer-provided health
insurance. Thus, the government reserves the right to tell you what to do in
some cases but not others so there really is no principle here at all.

is a dilemma for it is really about how intrusive the government is
allowed to be in providing services to citizens or protecting their rights.
Personally, I have no idea.

is one of those unintended consequences of law that occurs on a regular basis
when the government enters into our private lives as the ACA clearly does.
There is nothing more personal than health care and the legislation has had
dramatic effects on health care, albeit for only a few. Most people haven’t
noticed all that much of a change because they are still receiving their health
insurance through their employer and not using the exchanges or trying to buy
insurance on the open market. Medicaid expanded in some states, but not others.
The major economic drivers affecting health care were in effect long before
Barack Obama was elected. The insurers were doing everything they could to
shift risk to patients, payers and providers. Pharma had the FDA in its pocket
and a corner on the drug market with regard to prices. Hospitals could pretty
much build and do what they wanted and charge any amount and then negotiate
downward from the charge master number to arrive at prices that would sustain their margin while preserving
their non-profit tax status.

other words, the health care industrial complex continues as a great American
scam unabated by the ACA.

latest Supreme Court decision appears to be a blow for individual freedom. It
isn’t.  It’s another attempt by the
Supremes to chip away at the ACA, a law over which they would have had little standing if its
intended effects would have been paid for by a direct tax, as is Medicare. 

we will hear the fights over the next few days about what the Supreme Court’s
latest action really means. The libertarians and Tea Party folks will revel.
The pro-Choice Democrats will be furious. But it is the Congress that ought to
be ashamed.

still have no idea what the Congress thought it was trying to do when it passed
the ACA with not a single Republican vote. All it really did is preserve the
current fee-for-service system of disease care and further enrich the insurers,
big pharma and the hospitals. If what they intended to do was to provide the
American people with access to a new right, health, this bill was not the answer.
But the means to providing Americans with some minimal health care was never
the real goal of the ACA anyway. If it were, the ACA would expand Medicare to
everyone and be done with it.

the mess enlarges. Don’t you think Congress needs a new hobby besides being

Leonard Zwelling