‘Bummer’Care impacts our livelihood

Published 8:21 pm Monday, February 10, 2014

I did a double take when scanning the deductions area of my paycheck stub back in early January.

My health insurance, which I jointly pay along with the generosity of my company, had increased by $50 a week. Because I did listen to my math teachers in school, that translates into a $2,600 hit on my spendable income annually.

When I checked with my company’s Human Resources officer as to the reason behind the increase, I was told it was linked to the new Affordable Care Act….aka ObamaCare. Only those within our company with family healthcare plans were impacted….sort of like the old “marriage penalty” assessed by the IRS. Our employees who are single saw the portion they pay for the company’s health insurance plan decrease slightly.

For starters, forcing those of us who are married to pay more isn’t fair. Secondly, and I believe more importantly, taking $2,600 out of my pocket annually isn’t the way to jumpstart a sluggish economy.

Add to that the fact that I know of five co-workers who are in the same predicament. That equates to a total of $15,600 of spendable income lost annually just in this office alone. Just think of how that number balloons based on the number of workers impacted the same way nationally.

My blood really began to boil when I read an op-ed piece last week penned by David Green, the CEO and founder of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts-and-crafts stores. Mr. Green has seen his business, which was launched out of his garage with a $600 bank loan, become one of the nation’s largest arts-and-crafts retailers, now with more than 500 locations in 41 states.

Stories such as Green’s have been repeated all over this great land of ours…one built on the free enterprise system. However, that way of life is now threatened from within….via ObamaCare.

The Green family is rooted deep in their Christian faith. They have no religious objection to birth control, per se, and their company-provided health insurance will continue to cover traditional types of preventive contraceptives. However, what the Greens take issue with are abortion-causing drugs, such as the morning-after pill. That pill works by preventing ovulation or fertilization. In medical terms, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it can reduce a woman’s chances of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent.

But critics, to include the Green family, of that type of contraceptive say it is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

ObamaCare mandates that type of drug be included and covered under a company’s healthcare plan. If a company refuses to abide, they face up to a $1.3 million daily fine.

“By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow,” Green wrote in his op-ed piece. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”

“Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right,” he added.

I agree. While it’s a known fact that we have a broken system of healthcare across our nation and it is in dire need of repair, this ain’t the way to fix it, especially with wallet-breaking penalties, such as my 50 bucks a week or Mr. Green’s $1.3 million a day.

And hooray for Mr. Green for filing a lawsuit, one that calls the mandate unconstitutional and requests an injunction to prohibit it from being enforced.

“I know people will say we ought to follow the rules, that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief,” Green wrote. “We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Hobby Lobby’s case. Hopefully, they’ll do the right thing.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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