Via Ed Morrissey, this is a significant blow to the Obama administration’s so-called compromise on the birth control mandate. The Catholic Health Association was a key supporter of Obamacare, and provided the administration with Catholic cover by initially supporting the mandate compromise. But after a long review, the CHA has decided that the administration’s accommodations don’t go far enough. USA Today reports:
President Obama’s support for his signature health care act took a fresh hit Friday. The Catholic Health Association, the nation’s largest private health care provider, has rebuffed the latest White House moves to make its contraception coverage mandate more acceptable to Catholics and conservative evangelicals, according to Religion News Service.
The CHA was a critical voice in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in 2009. Sister Carol Keehan, head of CHA, drew standing ovations from progressive Catholics.
The CHA expressed lingering concerns about aspects of the mandate in a letter to HHS on Friday.
The announcement comes at a terrible time for the Obama administration. Obama has already lost some ground with Catholic voters, and Thursday marks the beginning of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom protest, which will highlight the mandate as an example of government persecution. It will bring the issue into pulpits around the country through lectures, prayer vigils and public action campaigns for two weeks (that is, if Obamacare is still around for that long).