Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak has made a stand on contraception mandate challenges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by praising a federal appeals court in Illinois for temporarily barring the U.S. government from requiring a small Illinois construction company to access insurance coverage for contraceptives.
The pre-New Year order last Friday from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago was 2-1.
Doak has been a fierce opponent among his state insurance regulatory brethren of the contraception mandate since PPACA became enacted and has taken stances at meetings the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). [He also opposes the Dodd-Frank Act's reach with insurance oversight as housed in the U.S. Treasury Department, as well.] Doak issued his remarks from the Oklahoma Insurance Department, an agency of the State of Oklahoma, which it said is responsible for the education and protection of the insurance-buying public and for oversight of the insurance industry in the state.
Doak has also pledged in a press release to personally support Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby, in its decision to defy the emergency contraception (the morning-after pill which prevents a fertilized egg from implantation) coverage mandate. Both Hobby Lobby and its affiliate, Mardel’s (Christian bookstores), could be fined as much as $1.3 million per day starting yesterday, Jan. 1, the day the mandate became effective. It was denied relief from the fines last week by the Supreme Court’s Justice Sonia Sotomayer.
It was unclear at press-time despite an inquiry if the fine was actually being levied thus far.
There are dozens of challenges to the contraception law nationwide, with another recent action Dec. 31 in Sharpe Holdings Inc. v. HHS in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, U.S. magistrate Judge David D. Noce allowed for a temporary restraining order from PPACA mandates regarding abortifacient devices and related counseling coverage. Sharpe Holdings cited, like many plaintiffs in related cases, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment.
A motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled to be heard Jan. 14.
Also, on Dec. 30, a Michigan U.S. District judge backed Domino’s Farms Corp. (an office complex, not the pizza company sold previously to Bain Capital) and its owner, Tom Monaghan, a devout Roman Catholic, in refusing the contraception coverage mandate.
The Illinois construction company family owners, Cyril and Jane Korte, fought the contraception mandate because it violates their religious faith, as well.
Doak finds it necessary as an "American and Oklahoman" to weigh in as an insurance regulator.
"Religious freedom is a basic constitutional right granted by our founding fathers and paid for by the sacrifice of millions of veterans for all the citizens of the United States to enjoy and currently that right is being eroded," Doak said. "Where does it stop? If we do not stand up and protect religious liberties in health care now, then when?"
Doak himself said he was not opposed to contraception but voiced strong opposition to the federal government’s stance, and asked for prayers.
“I am for religious freedom and capitalism, both of which are under daily attacks by big government," Doak said. "If a potential employee does not like the benefits offered by an employer, let them seek another opportunity or purchase needed coverage in the private market. These federal mandates created by overzealous regulators are killing what has made our country great. Using their core values, the Green family runs a successful business that creates jobs. They believe God built and blessed their business for staying true to biblical principles. Those beliefs deserve respect. President Obama doesn't understand that because he's never built a company."
Doak is asking for people of faith to pray for both state and federal lawmakers as they head back to work in 2013.
In March, Doak said he was asking the state attorney generals to review the constitutionality of the U.S. Treasury's Federal Insurance Office (FIO). He also urged other state attorney generals to review and consider filing lawsuits on behalf of states’ rights.