When the US Supreme Court released its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. yesterday it pointed out yet another flaw in the delivery system for the Affordable Care Act. By yet another 5-4 decision, the Court held that family businesses and for-profit closely held corporations could opt out of providing contraceptive coverage for their employees if it went against the religious beliefs of the owners of the company.
As I have written before, the biggest problem with the ACA is that it left the current medical care delivery system in place. Thus, most folks are beholden to their employers for health care coverage. Rather than creating a program of universal health care, the ACA is nothing but a corporate welfare system for the insurance companies. They are guaranteed their profits while no one else even has a guarantee of coverage.
In Burwell, Hobby Lobby argued that the contraceptive mandate in the ACA violated the religious beliefs of the owners of the company. They argued that since religious non-profits were allowed to opt-out of contraceptive coverage that they should get to opt-out, too. Let's just forget for a second that Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company that employs over 16,000 people.
Let's also forget for a second just how specious the company's argument really is. It is of no concern to the owners of Hobby Lobby what their employees do when they go home at night. The last time I checked, there is no commandment telling folks not to have sex as often as they want - provided they aren't committing adultery. But I do seem to recall a commandment that says we shouldn't go around killing folks.
So, is Hobby Lobby also arguing that shouldn't have to pay that portion of their taxes that go to war-mongering? Are they asking the states to exempt them from that portion of their state taxes that go to pay for executing prisoners?
No, you say? Well that's awfully damn funny, ain't it?
So the fine Christian owners of Hobby Lobby have no problem with spending money to build war planes and guns and bombs and drones. They have no problem spending money to send troops overseas to shoot at people. They have no problem with remote controlled aircraft shooting missiles at groups of people. They haven't the slightest problem with strapping down prisoners and killing them with questionable drugs. But someone wants to put on a condom or take a birth control pill and the whole world's going to stop spinning.
Give me a fucking break.
Religious belief is the straw man in all of this. The real target is paring down the ACA so that companies don't have to provide decent health care coverage for their employees. The more watered-down the coverage offered by a company, the less money it costs them and the more money the top managers and owners can walk away with.
People who work for Hobby Lobby aren't working their because they share the same religious beliefs with the money-hoarding owners of the company. They're working there because they need a paycheck to pay the bills. More and more folks are forced to work for low-wage service companies because the manufacturing jobs are being shipped overseas in the name of higher profits.
What will be the next domino to fall? Which company is going to step up next and argue that they shouldn't have to comply with one provision or another of the ACA because it goes against some principle by which the company stands? And how many more workers are going to see their coverage pared down so that the owners of the company can put more money in their pockets.
As with most everything he has done over the course of his presidency, Barack Obama made a half-assed effort to appease those on the left. The ACA was a very cynical attempt to placate those who demanded a single-payer health care system that guaranteed coverage for all. The ACA will fail not because the wingnuts defunded it, the ACA will fail because the courts sanctioned a death of a thousand cuts.