In January 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an order implementing Obamacare by requiring employers that have 50 or more employees to provide “minimum essential coverage” for employees and dependents. The “minimum” includes abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilization. After a public uproar, HHS gave Catholic hospitals and faith-based colleges like Liberty a year to figure out how to violate their consciences. Not even that was offered to businesses like the craft chain Hobby Lobby, whose Christian owners are also refusing to comply and are challenging the law.
In an amicus brief filed on March 6 at the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, American Civil Rights Union General Counsel Peter Ferrara notes that:
“If Liberty University complies with the employer mandate...it will violate fundamental religious beliefs that life begins at conception, and that abortion is consequently murder of pre-born children in their mothers' wombs. The PPACA consequently mandates that the University violate its religious beliefs.”
Founded in 1971 by the late evangelist Jerry Falwell, Liberty is the largest Christian college in America, with 12,000 on-campus students and another 62,000 pursuing degrees online. In fact, it’s the largest private, nonprofit university in the country. Mr. Ferrara’s brief explains why the university’s refusal to embrace Caesar’s immoral mandate would be crushingly expensive.
If even a single employee finds the insurance “unaffordable,” defined as when an employee’s portion of the premium exceeds 9.5 percent of his or her household income, fines would be imposed based on all university employees.
“An employer mandate violation can very easily result under the PPACA,” Mr. Ferrara explains. “A family of four with a single income-earner will easily make the employer’s coverage for his entire work force ‘unaffordable.’ … If the health insurance for each person in the household costs only $2,500, then the single income earner would need to make over $100,000 to meet the PPACA employer mandate requirements for an ‘affordable’ plan. These penalties will quickly become “massive,” even “destructive,” which qualifies them as unconstitutional punitive penalties rather than permissible taxes under Drexel Furniture.”
Here’s more from the brief: "In 2012, Liberty University employed 6,900 people, with net claims for its self-insured health insurance of $14,214,000. Yet Liberty University would be fined $20,700,000 ($3,000 times 6,900) if only one employee meets the 9.5 percent "unaffordable" criterion.
“That penalty would be on top of the additional penalty of $2,000 per employee ($13,800,000) that Liberty University would have to pay for providing coverage excluding abortifacients, for a total combined penalty of $34,500,000. That would be in addition to the $14,214,000 that Liberty University paid in claims for its health insurance coverage in 2012.”
Result? This would “tax or penalize Liberty University out of existence.”
For the same reasons of conscience cited by Liberty, the individual mandate is an unconstitutional violation of the freedom of religion, the brief contends.
Congress declined to include a severance clause, which would have left Obamacare in place if portions were declared unconstitutional. All parties agreed that without the mandate, the system would collapse. Without it, people would not buy insurance until they needed it.
“This Court should declare the employer mandate and individual mandate unconstitutional,” the ACRU’s brief concludes, “and, since those provisions are not severable, should declare the entire Act unconstitutional."
The Supreme Court will eventually hear this case. America’s health care system is hanging on a wing and a prayer.