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By Maurice G. McCormick, Published February 26 2012

The president’s sleight of hand

President Barack Obama has announced he has resolved the dispute over religious institutions paying for contraception, abortions, sterilization, etc., by claiming that those institutions will not have to pay for those services. Instead, those services will be provided to the religious institutions’ employees by the insurance companies.

It was always the insurance companies that were going to pay for that in the first place. They pay for it with the premiums they receive from the employers. Did somebody consult the insurance companies and ask them if they were going to pay those expenses for free? I am sure it would be a surprise to them.

In order to pay for those items, the insurance companies will increase the premiums to other employers and increase the base premium the religious institutions will be paying. Thus, the religious institutions will be paying for the very treatments that they object to as a matter of conscience.

If this sleight of hand by the president is really free, perhaps the president can simply say the national budget is balanced next year because the insurance companies are paying it off. Now that would be a trick.