Posts Tagged ‘HHS’
November 9th, 2013 at 5:58 pm
Obamacare and the Culture Wars

Among other social-engineering priorities, Obamacare’s drafters decided that pricing insurance policies for men and women in relation to the services each group is likely to use is discrimination, since women, unlike men, need access to costly reproductive services.

The solution to this perceived problem is to mandate that all people purchasing insurance under Obamacare – including males covering only themselves – must pay for services like maternity care that they cannot use. The result is another HHS mandate that significantly raises the cost of health insurance on one group (men) for the sake of making it more affordable for another (women).

For a glimpse of where this comes from and where we’re heading, consider the Obama 2012 campaign’s much-maligned “Life of Julia” web video. It shows how a young girl in America progresses through adulthood without ever forming a family. Instead, her entire life requires a series of massive interventions from paternalistic government, including the likes of Head Start, public school, college loans, small business subsidies, child support services, as well as health and pension payments. The creators revel in the fact that all of these programs allow their heroine to live a life completely unimaginable absent such government-coerced public assistance.

My hunch is that many Republicans aren’t brave enough to denounce the Democrats’ “War on Men,” for fear of a feminist backlash. But if no protest is lodged, then the Party of Dependency will be encouraged to continue enacting policies that force traditionally conservative constituencies to pay for the lifestyle choices of consistently liberal voters.

November 1st, 2013 at 4:51 pm
More Legal Woes for Obamacare

Though Obamacare’s individual mandate barely survived the Supreme Court last year, there’s no guarantee that some of the law’s other elements will be so lucky.

Last week, Tim explained that litigation challenging the health law’s federal subsidy structure is proceeding toward the Court. If the Court’s four consistent conservatives and swinger Anthony Kennedy stay true to the text, citizens in 34 states won’t be eligible for subsidies that make Obamacare-approved insurance plans (somewhat) more affordable.

Another series of cases challenge the controversial ‘HHS mandate’ that requires all non-houses of worship to provide employees with access to contraceptives and abortion-related services; despite the objecting employer’s religious beliefs. Appellate level decisions are split between the government and private business, meaning the Court is very likely to decide the issue as a way to provide continuity throughout the nation.

If recent trends hold, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in both lines of litigation sometime next spring, releasing a high-profile opinion in mid-summer.

As long as Obamacare is the law of the land, there will be no end to the headaches it creates.

October 29th, 2013 at 4:51 pm
Obamacare Subsidies Could be Illegal

If you think Obamacare-approved insurance is expensive now, imagine how high it could go if the Supreme Court rules federal subsidies illegal.

Currently, there are four lawsuits making their way through the federal judiciary. I’ve profiled one from Oklahoma previously, and its arguments are essentially the same as the others.

In a nutshell, the text of Obamacare makes federal subsidies available to people buying health insurance on state-run exchanges created under Section 1311 of the law. The law says nothing about subsidies being available for insurance bought through federally-run exchanges created under Section 1321.

The Internal Revenue Service tried to paper-over the problem by issuing a regulation that made subsidies available on both sets of exchanges, but that’s being vigorously challenged as an illegal affront to the plain meaning of the Obamacare statute.

As Sean Trende notes, this challenge to Obamacare, if successful, wouldn’t kill the law outright. That might make voting against the IRS’s power grab more palatable for Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast the crucial fifth vote to uphold the individual mandate last year.

Of course, if the subsidies aren’t available to people in the 34 states where HHS is operating an exchange, then the system will implode. Even with subsidies many people are struggling to pay for the higher costs. Take them away and a huge political backlash will be unleashed.

If any of these cases gets to the Supremes, let’s hope they stick to the law and leave the politics for Election Day.

October 28th, 2013 at 7:11 pm
HHS: No, You Can’t Keep Your Insurance

President Barack Obama lied. NBC News says so.

In 2009, President Obama went around the country saying “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan.” After Obamacare passed, he persisted: “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”

But in between, the Health and Human Services department gutted that guarantee.

“The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be ‘grandfathered,’ meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law,” reports NBC.

“But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date – the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example – the policy would not be grandfathered.”

See the game? Obama can claim that so long as insurance companies freeze a plan in time, the consumer won’t be bothered. But change any part of a product – including making it cheaper – and the grandfather clause no longer applies.

In other words, insurance companies can either ignore their market’s price signals and lose money, or respond and get blamed for forfeiting their clients’ health plan.

The worse part: “[T]he administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

That’s because HHS put that estimate in a federal regulation in July 2010.

Looks like President Obama has about as much respect for the American people as he does for the rule of law: Zilch.

October 15th, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Was Obamacare Website a No-Bid Job?

If anyone is looking for another reason to criticize the Obamacare website rollout, here it is.

“Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance,” reports the Washington Examiner.

An open, competitive process would have revealed that CGI was fired in 2011 by the Ontario government for failing to deliver on time “a new online medical registry for diabetes patients and treatment providers.”

In other words, CGI – the firm responsible for creating a health insurance portal to service 36 American states – couldn’t deliver a much less complicated system for 1 Canadian province. The service was so bad that the Ontario government still refuses to pay any outstanding fees it owes to CGI.

Remember when liberals screamed bloody murder about the no-bid contracts awarded by the George W. Bush administration to defense contractors?

Well, it’s time to mount their high horses again and demand accountability.

I’m looking at you in particular, Jon Stewart.

August 26th, 2013 at 5:06 pm
HHS Hires 86 Cops, 2 Consumer Safety Officers under ObamaCare

How’s this for a snapshot of ObamaCare’s priorities?

Since the controversial health law passed in March 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has hired 1,684 new employees.

Of those, 86 are criminal investigators while only two are consumer safety officers.

The numbers come from HHS data extracted by a Freedom of Information Request by The Daily Mail, a British newspaper.

Bear in mind, HHS’s health cops are in addition to the estimated 16,500 new agents the Internal Revenue Service is seeking to fulfill its ObamaCare policing mandate.

There are, of course, better, much less intrusive ways to do health reform.

“People would voluntarily purchase the health insurance of their choice with basic subsidies. Additional special assistance could be targeted to help those with low incomes and/or high risk-based premium costs in purchasing health insurance,” according to Thomas Miller of the American Enterprise Institute.

Instead of the demanding detailed financial and health information from millions of Americans, Miller proposes treating ObamaCare health insurance subsidies like other income tax issues, so that only “a tiny fraction of taxpayers would be subject to mostly random audits to ensure that their tax subsidies for insurance are being spent appropriately.”

Miller’s solution would nix the need for all the new ObamaCare investigators. Eliminating the 86 new HHS hires would save taxpayers approximately $138.8 million annually.

But that would mean less oversight and control for the federal government, which, as we are seeing with the rise in police-related hiring at HHS and IRS, is not a priority under ObamaCare.

June 13th, 2013 at 9:43 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Faceless Bureaucrat
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

June 5th, 2013 at 10:19 am
HHS: Yep, We Lied
Posted by Print

If you’re a member of the Obama Administration who’s engaged in some official malfeasance, now is the time to come clean. With the orgy of Administration-related scandals in the news right now, there’s a decent chance no one will notice. And if they do, they’ll likely be so numb to the pervasive impropriety that they’ll just ignore it and move on. That seems to be the thinking at the Department of Health and Human Services, where Secretary Kathleen Sebelius suddenly decided to become a little more forthcoming yesterday. From the New York Times:

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, disclosed on Tuesday that she had made telephone calls to three companies regulated by her department and urged them to help a nonprofit group promote President Obama’s health care law.

She identified the companies as Johnson & Johnson, the drug maker; Ascension Health, a large Roman Catholic health care system; and Kaiser Permanente, the health insurance plan.

At a hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Ms. Sebelius said she did not explicitly ask the companies for money, but urged them to support the work of the nonprofit group, Enroll America.

The group, led by former Obama administration officials, is working with the White House to publicize the 2010 health care law and help uninsured people sign up for coverage.

Here’s the deal: News of the Secretary’s freelancing had already gone public a few weeks ago, but the defense at the time was that she had only solicited money from a couple of companies that weren’t regulated by HHS. Now she concedes that she was hitting up companies under her department’s jurisdiction but wants you to believe that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Here’s the problem: Congress refused to fully fund an extensive PR campaign for Obamacare (as it should have — this is a government health program, not the rollout of a new SUV), leading a bunch of Obama flaks to create the aforementioned Enroll America. Now you have the HHS Secretary — who has the power to bring down the hammer on these companies — ever-so-gently suggesting that they “support the work” of Enroll. She could well be telling the truth about not explicitly asking them for money — because she wouldn’t have to. None of these companies need to be told outright that if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

The dissembling from HHS is bad enough, but it’s representative of a deeper problem. At every turn, Obamacare creates precisely this kind of nexus between government and the private sector. It’s an invitation to corruption. And it looks like the RSVPs are starting to come in.

May 24th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Insurance Companies Solicited by Sebelius Now Questioned by Congress

The Hill reports that the plot is thickening as key members of Congress ask 15 insurance companies to turn over any records related to potentially illegal fundraising to support ObamaCare by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The request went to industry giants Aetna, Blue Shield of California, Cigna, Coventry Health Care, H&R Block, HCSC Group, Highmark, Humana, Independence Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare, WellPoint, America’s Health Insurance Plans, BlueCross BlueShield Association, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

The controversy first surfaced when the Washington Post confirmed that HHS Secretary Sebelius is personally contacting private members of the health care industry – including insurance providers – to ask that they donate six- to seven-figure sums to Enroll America, a pro-ObamaCare non-profit advocacy group running a national summer and fall ad campaign to promote enrollment in state-based insurance exchanges.

H&R Block, one of the companies contacted by both Sebelius and Congress, has already committed to donating $500,000 to fund Enroll America’s efforts, according to the New York Times.

With its records request, you can bet that Congress wants to know what exactly was said/indicated/promised in the Sebelius-H&R Block conversation, as well as any other communications between top health insurance companies and their chief regulator.

If those requests aren’t honored voluntarily, expect to see subpoenas follow very quickly.

May 16th, 2013 at 8:05 pm
Sebelius’s ObamaCare Lobbying Funds Liberal Political Groups

As I discuss in my column this week, the primary beneficiary of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s legally suspect lobbying of private health companies is the non-profit community organizing outfit Enroll America.

The group’s Advisory Council includes several members of the liberal establishment such as NAACP, La Raza, Planned Parenthood, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

But wait, there’s more:

“Enroll America’s board of directors is made up of insurers and hospital organizations that will benefit from enrolling millions of people in Obamacare. But its management is 100 percent political. Its president is Anne Filipic, formerly deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, where she networked with community organizers. Before that, she had a top job at the Democratic National Committee, and before that she managed Obama’s victorious 2008 Iowa Caucus bid,” according to the Boston Herald.

“To design a media campaign, Enroll America hired Lake Research, which also manages messaging for ACORN,, LaRaza and 39 members of Congress, all Democrats”

At least now we know how Sebelius is feathering her post-HHS nest – by funneling money to just about every radical liberal group in America.

May 16th, 2013 at 7:39 pm
Congressional Republicans Demand Investigation of Sebelius

A group of powerful Republicans in the House and Senate is demanding an investigation into potentially illegal fundraising calls by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to private health companies.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, three House committee chairmen and two Senate ranking members said, “The Secretary’s actions show an apparent disregard for constitutional principles and may violate the Antideficiency Act, the prohibition against augmenting congressional appropriations, and executive branch ethics laws,” according to reporting by Politico.

As I explain in my column this week, Sebelius has been caught quoting specific dollar amounts that private companies should donate to a pro-ObamaCare community organizing group getting ready to promote the law ahead of this year’s October enrollment.

Whatever GAO decides to do, it’s a near certainty that the relevant Republican-led House committees with jurisdiction over this scandal will soon launch investigations into Sebelius’s conduct.

May 14th, 2013 at 3:11 pm
Self-Insurance Another ObamaCare Unintended Consequence

Sally Pipes identifies an “escape hatch” for small businesses trying to avoid the costly employer mandates threatening employers with costly insurance premiums or fines:

A RAND analysis found that a fifth of firms with 50-200 workers had self-insured by 2010, the year Obamacare became law — up from 14 percent of such companies in 2006.

A survey by Munich Health North America found that 82 percent of health insurance executives report seeing growing interest in self-funded coverage among employers. A California-based benefits consulting firm that helps companies self-insure told Kaiser Health News that its business has doubled in the past six months. And Cigna says that it saw self-coverage for small businesses grow by a fifth last year.

Companies with younger, healthier workforces are leading the way. After all, with their population of low-risk employees, they have the most to gain. And that’s bad news for Obamacare’s exchanges.

The problem for ObamaCare is that the only way health insurance premiums will be (theoretically) affordable is if legions of young, healthy people join the exchanges’ insurance pools. That’s because they are needed to pay into the system so that older and sicker people can draw down the benefits.

But if small businesses opt to self-insure – especially if they are newer businesses more likely to employ younger and healthier workers – then that will drain the ObamaCare pools of the very people who will make them (barely) affordable.

With this in mind, don’t be surprised to see an IRS or HHS rule come down that prohibits self-insurance to prop up ObamaCare’s exchange pools.

As with the so-called “family glitch,” it’s a ploy the Obama administration will be ready to use if its slapdash law continues to produce embarrassing unintended consequences.

May 13th, 2013 at 5:46 pm
Sebelius Already Raised at Least $10.5 Million from Health Industry

On the heels of a Washington Post report that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is actively soliciting health industry executives for six- to seven-figure “donations” to help publicize ObamaCare, the New York Times reveals how much she’s netted in pledges so far: $10.5 million.

And that’s just from two groups. One is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which bills itself as the largest public health philanthropy. It pledged $10 million. The other is the for-profit tax preparation company H&R Block who, according to the Times, “sees a large role for itself in helping low- and middle-income people apply for tax credits that can be used to buy private health insurance.” It promised $500,000 for the propaganda outreach effort.

An unbiased observer could look at this and easily see at least the probability if not the certainty of a quid pro quo arrangement where payment to an HHS-backed initiative now means preferential treatment later.

And remember, these two transactions are only the tip of the iceberg. Once more health industry entities confirm their involvement Sebelius’ project we’ll be able to see which firms will reap the lion’s share of benefits of ObamaCare’s corrupt pay-to-play scheme.

Crony capitalism is alive and well in the Obama Administration.

May 11th, 2013 at 8:03 pm
Sebelius Pressuring Health Companies to Promote ObamaCare

Earlier this year Michael Barone catalogued a litany of abuses to the rule of law perpetuated under the Obama Administration. “Gangster Government” is the term Barone coined to describe the behavior.

As of Friday, Barone needs to update his list.

Sarah Kliff broke the news that Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has been calling health care executives, “asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law…”

Imagine the conversation. A health care CEO gets a personal call from the chief regulator of his business suggesting that the company and the people it employs make financial donations to promote a law administered by the regulator.

Sounds like a suggestion that can’t be refused, right?

As Barone would say, this is Gangster Government.

Republicans in Congress need to push back hard on this abuse of power by Sebelius.

The people running businesses are there to make profits, not spend precious resources on ruinous fights with thugs spending taxpayer money.

If Sebelius can get away with coercing businesses to “donate” money to promote a law that increases her power over them, an awful precedent will be set. She – and any of her successors – will be able to tax, fine and now “fundraise” the very people they regulate.

Fail to pay enough, and say goodbye to your livelihood.

Congress needs to put a stop to Sebelius’ abuse of power. Now.

April 23rd, 2013 at 4:13 pm
Using Stimulus for Polling Strippers

The reformist public interest group Cause of Action released a very interesting report last week, one which I had hoped to have time by now to write about at greater length. For immediate purposes, though, time doesn’t allow, so here’s the short version: Through the infamous 2009 “stimulus” bill, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control allocated at least $94 million worth of grants that, to quote the CoA press release, “supported lobbyists and public relations companies who used taxpayer dollars to push laws and agendas that would lead to tax increases on tobacco and sugar sweetened products—violating federal law as well as HHS and Office of Management and Budget guidelines.”

Asked CoA Executive Director Dan Epstein: “With a program whose funding is expected to grow into the billions, how much more lobbying will the taxpayers be on the hook for before Kathleen Sebelius decides that it’s time to be accountable?”

There’s lot of good stuff in the report, most of it important but less than, uh, sexy. But, as is often the case, amidst the straightforward details there is one particular absurdity sure to attract guffaws.  It seems that one grantee actually conducted a focus group, on the effects of a proposed smoking ban, with nine “exotic dancers.” The strippers, according to the report, said that a “smoke-free adult entertainment establishment” would lead to a loss of income.

Gotta love using federal taxpayers to discover that patrons won’t look at what’s hot unless they have smoke. (Does this mean that where there’s no smoke, there’s no heat?)

Jokes aside, the rest of the CoA report documents misuse of tax funds that, even if not quite so nakedly absurd, are equally objectionable from a legal standpoint. Every bureaucrat and grantee is supposed to know that using federal funds to lobby government is strictly verboten — but HHS seems uninterested in providing the oversight necessary to make sure the rule is enforced.

Coming from an agency whose Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, already was found to have improperly campaigned on government time, in violation of the Hatch Act, this is further evidence of the Obamites’ rampant politicization of the bureaucracy.  (Surprise, surprise: The White House declined to punish her.)

Again, the whole report is here.

April 23rd, 2013 at 1:52 pm
Dem Senator Retires After Calling ObamaCare “Train Wreck”

And now the other shoe drops.

Less than a week after telling HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that her implementation of ObamaCare’s costly and confusing health care system is a “train wreck,” U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) announces he’s retiring.

Baucus’s comments caused a stir because they met the Washington, D.C. definition of a gaffe – telling the truth in public.  With the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and lead ObamaCare author, on record as criticizing the President’s signature policy, it looked like it might finally be acceptable for Democrats in Congress to admit the obvious: ObamaCare is a disaster in the making.

But rather than stick around and fight to reform the law, Baucus is choosing to bow out of a tough reelection campaign in 2014. The decision could make it much easier for Republicans to pick up the seat, potentially adding another vote to the conservative-led repeal caucus.

Whatever the spin, this much is clear. Last week Baucus let it be known he could no longer defend the law. Now, it’s clear he can’t win with it either.

Hopefully, it’s the start of a trend.

February 16th, 2013 at 6:19 pm
Deadline Passed, 24 States Refuse ObamaCare Exchange

Unless the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decides to once again bump back the deadline that passed yesterday, as of right now 24 states have told the Obama Administration they will not create a state-based health insurance exchange.

Under the terms of ObamaCare, this means that HHS will now take over the process in these states, adding hundreds of millions in new costs to federal taxpayers.  Moreover, the short time horizon between now and October when the plans must be available on the exchanges (they’ll be effective next January), means that there is likely to be an enormous push to hire more HHS bureaucrats to get the job done.

It’s been said that when it comes to something being fast, accurate, and cheap, you can have any two but not all three.  If history is any guide, the feds will go oh-for-three.

H/T: Washington Times

February 8th, 2013 at 8:15 pm
Indiana’s Pence Wants Sensible Reform to Medicaid Expansion

Like Ohio’s John Kasich and four other Republican governors, Indiana’s Mike Pence seriously considered expanding Medicaid eligibility under ObamaCare.  But unlike Kasich & Company, Pence ultimately decided against it when HHS refused to grant him one sensible reform.

Established under Mitch Daniels, Pence’s predecessor, the Healthy Indiana program allows uninsured adults aged 19-64 to use a state-based health savings account to pay for medical expenses, such as doctor’s visits, hospital services, diagnostic tests, and prescription drugs.  Incentives apply to reward cost-effective spending, but it’s critical to point out that the spending decisions within the account are determined by the policyholder, not the state.

In order to go along with expansion under ObamaCare that increases the eligibility pool for Medicaid, Pence asked permission to use Healthy Indiana accounts to help keep costs down.  The request is imminently reasonable.  If the purpose of Medicaid expansion is to cover uninsured people, why not let Indiana migrate a state-based program with a 94% satisfaction rating?

Predictably, Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services said no, preferring to retain federal control over coverage and spending.  Without a program like Healthy Indiana in place, costs are likely to spiral upward since Medicaid beneficiaries are not tethered to the consequences of their spending decisions.

So, Pence said no to the Medicaid expansion.  But I think it’s crucial to understand that his response was not a kneejerk reaction against helping the uninsured get normal access to healthcare.  Instead, he proposed a sensible reform that would have accomplished the same goal as Medicaid expansion, but with more cost certainty for the state budget, and thus less tax receipts from taxpayers.

I’ve speculated before that Pence might be the GOP’s best bet in the 2016 presidential race.  A moment like this, even when it doesn’t result in a “win” politically speaking, helps confirm that suspicion because it’s based on sound principles.

July 30th, 2012 at 11:21 am
Prophylactic Against Mandated Contraceptives and Abortifacients

I’m up at today.

As President Obama’s mandated insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs takes effect on August 1 for ordinary businesses, the Health and Human Services mandate’s ultimate survival suddenly appears blessedly jeopardized.

Federal district Judge John J. Kane of Colorado on Friday issued a temporary injunction blocking the mandate from being applied to Hercules Industries, a family-owned manufacturer of air-conditioning products….

Citing precedent, Kane wrote that the weakness of the mandate’s legal position looks “serious, substantial, difficult and doubtful” based on statutory grounds alone, without even considering the significant constitutional challenges raised by Hercules. As Kane summed it up, the government’s stance amounted to an assertion that “a for-profit, secular employer… cannot engage in an exercise of religion.” This is poppycock – and dangerous poppycock at that. It amounts to a claim that an individual employer, or a closely-held family corporation, does not enjoy the right to religious exercise unless those rights are channeled through a church in a formal worship setting….

The ramifications of this decision could be enormous. If even a secular entity enjoys a “likelihood of success” on the merits of the challenge to Obama’s sweeping edict, then the dozens of suits filed by explicitly faith-related institutions probably enjoy a particularly strong likelihood of victory in court….

This could be very, very important for small businesses nationwide.

June 21st, 2012 at 7:28 pm
Error in Otherwise Good Column by Archbishop

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore has an otherwise excellent column in today’s Washington Post about the need to protect religious liberty from the assault represented by the HHS abortifacient mandate. But he makes an important misstatement, a wholly gratuitous one, that MUST be corrected, and will be in a moment.

First, here’s what is good, indeed terrific, about the column: It captures the essence of the state’s intrusion into internal religious affairs. As in:

According to HHS, an entity deserves religious freedom only if it primarily hires and primarily serves its co-religionists. But the state has no competence or authority to define the church and her ministries, let alone to impose on her such a restrictive, inward-looking definition.

This definition is a blow to any religious community, but especially to Catholics, who are called to serve anyone in need. As we often say, we serve people because we are Catholic, not because they are. It is why so many Catholic schools enroll so many non-Catholics; Catholic hospitals don’t ask for baptismal certificates upon admission; and Catholic soup kitchens don’t quiz the hungry on the Catechism.

Do read the whole thing. It’s good.

That said, there is a terrible mistake in the column that appears again and again in the talking points of Catholic clergy across the country. I’ll first quote Lori’s claim, and then show why it is flatly inaccurate. Here’s what he wrote:

And the federal government is not the only problem either. In Alabama and other states anti-immigrant legislation is so draconian as to make it a crime to give basic help–such as food, or a ride to church, or counseling–to an undocumented immigrant. This imperils the good work of pastors who are called to care for all souls, not just those recognized by government.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is an ignorant re-statement of an assertion that was never true in the first place. In a Weekly Standard piece last December, I showed how and why the assertion is false:

Then there is the absurd notion that priests or pastors might be arrested while providing humanitarian assistance under the part of the law that would make it unlawful to “harbor” an illegal alien. For one thing, the anti-harboring provisions match, almost word for word, an extensive anti-harboring section of federal law (8 U.S. Code 1324) that similarly makes it unlawful to “conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation”​—​a federal law that never before has been thought to put clergy in the slightest danger. For another thing, the Alabama law contains a host of exceptions for primary and secondary education and for just the sorts of humanitarian actions Obama described​—​among others, any “emergency medical condition,” “emergency disaster relief,” and “soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, and short-term shelter.”

To add to the protections for those in the ministry, Alabama’s constitution contains a “Religious Freedom Amendment” more extensive than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, namely “to guarantee that the freedom of religion is not burdened by state and local law; and to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious freedom is burdened by government.”

Finally, when Obama was using the Hispanic media to spread alarm, a federal judge had already enjoined the Alabama law’s “harboring” sections on technical grounds, mooting (at least for now) the entire alleged danger.

“I’ve made it clear in every public statement that there is nothing in this law that would prohibit anyone from being a good Samaritan,” said Luther Strange, Alabama’s mild-mannered, moderate-conservative attorney general cast by the New York Times in the role of the viciously segregationist former governor George Wallace, with all of Wallace’s “defiant history of intolerance and minority oppression.” The characterization fits Strange about as well as a tuxedo would fit a porpoise.

There. That just about sums it up: No different from federal law/mutliple specific exemptions/state constitutional protections/federal court enjoinment/state AG assurances.

It’s time the bishops, in the course of their brave and noble opposition to the HHS mandate, stop reaching for an unnecessary and unfair additional point that obviously is intended merely to make their complaint look bipartisan.