By Tony Perkins
It may be the start of a busy shopping season — but not for ObamaCare. A year after the technical meltdown of the first launch, HHS took a second crack at opening enrollment for 2015. And while it’s impossible to have a worse rollout than the nationwide health care collapse of 2014, the sequel isn’t exactly drawing big crowds. Thirteen states launched their insurance portals Saturday, along with the federal exchange that serves the other 37.
For HHS, it was an anxious few hours, as officials waited to see if their revamped system would hold up. Although the snags were nothing compared to last October, there were plenty of bumps in the ObamaCare road. Within hours of going live, Washington State had to take down its entire site after the system started kicking out incorrect subsidy numbers. Elsewhere, users were still getting error messages that web pages hadn’t been updated or that the enrollment period (which had just started) was closed.
But these were all minor problems compared to the epic failure of ObamaCare’s debut. So far, the biggest glitch of the exchange might be the lack of customers. Only 23,000 signed up for coverage in the first full day, hardly a ringing endorsement of the controversial program, which barely scraped together seven million enrollees last year.
And while functionality may be better the second time around, favorability isn’t. Public approval of ObamaCare is hitting rock bottom, with new polls tracking the lowest support in the law’s short existence. In a new Gallup poll, only 37% of Americans approve of the system that’s killing jobs, spiking costs, ballooning debt, funding abortion, and destroying freedom. Thanks to ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber, who credited “the stupidity of the American voter” with the bill’s passage, those numbers have nowhere to go but down.
Of course, religious organizations didn’t need to be persuaded about the law’s shortcomings, since dozens of them are living through the worst attack of their First Amendment rights ever under the President’s policy. One of those groups, Priests for Life, ran into a liberal wall known as the D.C. Court of Appeals, which — with the help of some radical appointees — insisted that an organization of priests provide birth control and other drugs that can prevent or end a pregnancy. “As we have said from the beginning,” Father Frank Pavone told reporters, “Priests for Life will not obey the HHS mandate. To ask a group of priests to cooperate in the government’s plan to expand access to birth control and abortion-inducing drugs is about as contrary to religious freedom as you can get.”
Unfortunately, the D.C. Circuit Court didn’t seem to think so and unanimously ordered Pavone to comply. In her first big splash, new judge Cornelia Pillard made her mark on the Court — one of the many extreme liberals forced through the Senate under the revised filibuster rules. FRC fought Pillard’s confirmation — and now, Americans will see why. In her opinion, she insists that the administration’s flimsy “accommodation,” which still forces faith-based groups to pay for these pills, is a perfectly acceptable compromise for pro-life groups.
Forcing Christians to violate their beliefs is just par for the ObamaCare course, Pillard argued. She wrote that nonprofits like Priests for Life “remain free to condemn contraception in the clearest terms” — just not with their hard-earned money. It’s yet another reason why the new conservative majority should strike back at ObamaCare — and fast.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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