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Was Romneycare A War On Religion?

By Igor Volsky  

"Was Romneycare A War On Religion?"

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Mitt Romney continues to attack President Obama for policies he supported as governor of Massachusetts with a new ad Thursday morning that accuses the administration of waging “a war on religion.”

The commercial claims that an Affordable Care Act regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide preventive health benefits like contraception undermines religious freedoms — but fails to note that houses of worship and religious nonprofits are exempt from offering birth control, or that Obama’s rule closely mirrors a measure included in Romney’s own health reform in Massachusetts. “President Obama used his healthcare plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith,” the ad says, before drawing a parallel to the Soviet Union:

As governor, Romney greatly expanded access publicly-financed contraception through his 2006 health care reform law. The state’s Commonwealth Care, established under Romneycare, offers subsidized, low or no-cost insurance to low-income residents and provides primary and preventive care that includes “family planning services” and prescription contraceptives. In 2005, Romney also “signed a bill that could expand the number of people who get family-planning services, including the morning-after pill” and asked the Department of Health and Human Services to require Catholic hospitals to issue the morning after pill to rape victims.

In fact, the Obamacare rule Romney is now characterizing as an affront to religious liberties is very similar to a 2002 state law he tacitly supported. Like more than two dozen states across the country, Massachusetts required insurers that provide outpatient benefits to cover hormone replacement therapy and all FDA-approved contraceptive methods — well before Obamacare became law. The Massachusetts rule exempts “an employer that is a church or qualified church-controlled organization” from the mandate, but prohibits institutions such as hospitals, universities, and nursing homes from denying their employees birth control coverage.

Romney, who was running for governor in 2002, remained mum on the requirement (as it was debated and ultimately passed unanimously in the Senate and in a 140 to 16 vote in the House) and pledged to maintain the status quo on family-planning related policy throughout his gubernatorial campaign.

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