Those readers who have been following the back-and-forth over the HHS mandate in recent days will be interested to learn that the White House plans today to announce a revision, at about 12.15pm EST.
More on this news can be read here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/10/politics/contraception-controversy/index.html?hpt=hp_t2 . (Incidentally, the observations made in this story about an apparent division within the White House and Democratic Caucus over the original HHS mandate are fascinating, in that it seems that Vice President Biden, Senator Kerry, former Chief of Staff Daley, and quite a few other progressive Democrats warned against the current version, while HHS Secretary Sebelius (herself a progressive Catholic) and others were equally adament in favor. This matter that has so rent the Church since the 1960s, in short, seems to have rent its best known government functionaries as well. Perhaps all the more reason, that, for the government to do its level best to leave this one alone.)
A key question that looms now in connection with the expected revision is whether it will sufficiently address the specific conscience concern that the HHS mandate as it currently stands has implicated. Much, if not all, one suspects, will hinge upon how specific or direct the new mandate will require the advice given by religiously affiliated employers to their employees, as to what they should do given that the institutions' group insurance policies do not cover contraception, to be.
My own surmise and hope, for what they might be worth, are that some formulation such as that which I offered here on Wednesday should satisfy all. Similarly, I believe that Steve's proposal made here yesterday should satisfy all.
I harbor some marginal worry at the moment, however, that the compromise actually announced in about one hour's time might turn out to amount to a case of our graceful President's 'stepping into it' twice. For current reports hint that the requirement might be that religiously affiliated employers provide quite specific instruction to their employees as to how and where they may procure contraception coverage. Something along those lines seems apt to implicate the same penumbral first amendment concerns as does the mandate as presently found.
I am very much hoping, then, both for the sake of first amendment values and, just as much, for the sake of justice in the distribution of health risk nationwide, that the White House gets it spot on this time, that we might finally put this altogether needless distraction behind us quite quickly - as far before November as possible.