Agudah and OU Protest Obama Administration’s Decision On Health Benefits

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obama3Agudas Yisroel of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America criticized the decision announced late last Friday by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services denying requests to respect the conscience of religiously affiliated organizations in what benefits they are compelled to provide in their employees’ health insurance plans.

The OU statement is as follows:

The Affordable Care Act requires that employer-provided health insurance plans must include contraception and related “preventative” services to employees free of charge. The law provides an exemption from this requirement to houses of worship and other religious institutions whose primary purpose is religious.

A diverse coalition of religious groups and institutions petitioned the Administration to expand this exemption to include a broader spectrum of religiously affiliated institutions. On Friday, the Obama Administration declined this request and ruled that, after one year, religious entities that employ people of other faiths on their staff or provides services to people of other faiths must include contraception and other preventative services in their employee insurance plans.

OU Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament issued the following statement commenting on the Administration action:

In declining to expand the religious exemption within the healthcare reform law, the Obama Administration has disappointingly failed to respect the needs of religious organizations such as hospitals, social welfare organizations and more.

Most troubling, is the Administration’s underlying rationale for its decision, which appears to be a view that if a religious entity is not insular, but engaged with broader society, it loses its “religious” character and liberties. Many faiths firmly believe in being open to and engaged with broader society and fellow citizens of other faiths. The Administration’s ruling makes the price of such an outward approach the violation of an organization’s religious principles. This is deeply disappointing. The Orthodox Union will support legislation in Congress to reverse this policy.

Agudas Yisroel’s statement is as follows:

In response to the HHS decision, Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s Vice President for Federal Government Affairs and Washington Director, said:

Agudath Israel of America is deeply disappointed by HHS’s refusal to amend its regulations that require health insurance plans provided by most religious employers to cover what they deem to be religiously-objectionable medical services. We believe that this mandate, which is binding on all faith-based entities other than a narrowly confined group of religious institutions, offends First Amendment principles.

But the concerns implicated by the agency’s rules go far beyond the scope of the specific employers and procedures involved here. The religious rights of faith-based entities vis-à-vis their employees is becoming one of the prominent religious liberty issues of our time and is manifest in a number of areas. Perhaps chief among them is its appearance within the medical context – both the religious rights of religious employers regarding coverage of religiously-objectionable medical services for their employees, as well as the religious rights of medical providers regarding provision of such services to their patients.

The Obama Administration had an opportunity to declare that there is a fundamental American value at stake here – religious freedom – and provide strong and unequivocal protections to religious employers. Instead, it took a step backwards by imposing religiously-objectionable mandates on countless religious entities, and by devising a cramped limitation on what “religious groups” are and what their public mission in society should be.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. obama likes people who vote for him given his record on israel he does nt care less about
    he s motivated by ego and votes not by care for all citizens

  2. What concerns me about the Obama administration is it’s willingness to assault the constitution with the thought that a re-election campaign is upon them. Imagine if he were re-elected and whatever semblance of ‘restraint’ that he might have would be gone and he would continue to circumvent the constitution and congress to achieve….whatever his end is…..scary

  3. Just today he was caught saying he would be able to be more flexible when it comes to disarmament once the elections are over. Interesting that he seemed to assume he would be reelected. He wants to unilaterally disarm us and he will if he gets in office again. I love Jewish people. Why are they so blind when it comes to Obama? He seems to spit in their eye all the time while my Christian brothers and I hold our Jewish friends in high regard. Why do they choose to support the wrong side? Tea Party patriots would bend over backward to protect Israel. Obama disrespects the Office of President and the Jewish people by dissing the Israeli leader in our White House, yet the Jews support him. It is so upsetting, I just can’t tell you how much. I feel so betrayed, especially if they vote him back into office. He is trying to destroy what we have so he can turn it into something else. If I wanted something else, I would move some where else. Please don’t re elect that man to do more damage than is already done!!


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