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How The HHS Mandate Is Just Like Groundhog Day

What do federal bureaucrats and the movie classic have in common? It’s the same story, over and over and over again.

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1. August 1, 2011


The mandate is announced. The administration admits it will burden religion, so it announces very narrow exception for some houses of worship. Those that serve the poor of any faith are going to be excluded.

2. February 10, 2012


Turns out that narrow exception is going to be a problem. Time for the first “Temporary Enforcement Safe Harbor,” exempting religious non-profits for at least 18 months.

3. March 21, 2012


Narrow exemption: still narrow. Administration admits that its original exemption was too narrow, and proposes an “accommodation” for religious non-profits.

4. August 15, 2012


Turns out the "Safe Harbor" is too narrow, too. The Administration admits, in response to a lawsuit by Wheaton College, that the “Safe Harbor” was too narrow, and so it broadens the Safe Harbor to include organizations like Wheaton.

5. February 1, 2013


Remember that narrow exception? Administration admits that the exemption for houses of worship is too narrow, so decides it might extend it to groups that serve and hire people of all faiths.

6. June 28, 2013


Temporary Enforcement Harbor, Part 2: Administration admits that the mandate is still burdening religious organizations, and so it extends the Safe Harbor for another six months (now totaling two years).

7. July 2, 2013


The narrow exception gets a little broader. Administration admits that the exception for houses of worship is too narrow, extends it to some groups that serve and hire people of all faiths, and creates an “accommodation” for other religious organizations.

8. July 22, 2014


About that accommodation...Administration admits, after Supreme Court losses in Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Wheaton, that the current accommodation needs to be changed, and so it says that it will issue new regulations to “augment” it.

After 3 years of changes, augmentations and exemptions, maybe Health & Human Services (HHS) can figure out a way to make the mandate work for everyone. Hoping for the best with the new "augmentations"!