Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., introduced a bill Tuesday that would blunt an Obama administration mandate penalizing employers who are unwilling to cover birth control for employees.
The healthcare reform law was responsible for the mandate. Under Sensenbrenner’s bill, employers that object to birth control for religious reasons can refuse to cover it without facing financial penalties from the government, The Hill
Sensenbrenner says many religious groups who object to the mandate would be devastated financially by the penalty. “If these taxes are levied and they are enforced, there will be no religious-affiliated institutions left in this country," he said at a press conference.
Republicans contend that the mandate infringes on the religious freedom of employers who oppose birth control and have announced their backing for the many religious groups suing the White House on that basis.
The Catholic Association promises to "fully engage the Catholic grassroots" to help pass the bill. It would eliminate taxes set for employers who decide against covering certain healthcare "by reason of adherence to a religious belief or moral conviction."
Sensenbrenner estimates that a 50-person religious institution would pay $1.8 million annually for ignoring the mandate. "Religious-affiliated institutions have been one of the ways that there has been diversity provided in education, in healthcare, and in various types of social services," he said. "I don’t think they should be taxed out of business, and neither do my co-sponsors."
The mandate exempts places of worship. Religious-affiliated institutions, such as Catholic hospitals and schools, don’t have to provide coverage through their own plans. Instead, the employees gain full contraception coverage directly from their insurer.
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