Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 2.11.13

Congressman H. Morgan Griffith
2013-02-11 16:51:55
Religious freedom: from “Obamacare” to peyote Over the last year or so, you may have heard some criticism from for-profit businesses and not-for-profit religious groups like the Roman Catholic bishops regarding the health care reform law’s mandate that requires employers (including religious hospitals, colleges, charities, and similar institutions) to put faith aside and provide employees with contraceptive services. The administration has said it is working to resolve concerns that the mandate violates the religious freedom rights that We the People are guaranteed by the Constitution. However, many are not convinced that the new proposed rules are sufficient to protect their freedom of religion. The United States Constitution protects religious freedom, even when a tenet of a particular faith would otherwise be in violation of the law. Peyote is an hallucinogenic drug historically used in the Native American Church to treat various ailments, and also to trigger deep, spiritual insight and introspection. Use of this drug is normally illegal. However, the use of hallucinogenic peyote as part of “bonafide religious ceremonies” is exempt from the law because it is protected under freedom of religion. I believe that the Catholic Church and others whose religious beliefs run counter to Obamacare policies should be exempt from the mandate, just as the Native American Church is exempt from a specific drug law. The Department of Health and Human Services is still accepting feedback on the recently-proposed rules. You may wish to submit a comment online here: www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CMS-2012-0031-63161 Taxing the middle class President Obama frequently says he doesn’t want to hurt the middle class. The consequences may be unintended, but many of his policies seem to do just that. In regard to Obamacare, President Obama has said "Families will save on their premiums; businesses that will see their costs rise if we do nothing will save money now and in the future.” In reality, premiums continue increasing. Also, employers are eliminating jobs, cutting employees’ hours, or leaving positions vacant to save from spending more for health care. One of the problems is the new medical device tax that is a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. The tax will impact the cost of devices such as insulin pumps, knee and hip replacements, and heart valves, among other treatments. Who pays the cost? The answer is ultimately either you or the taxpayers generally. If it’s not paid for from a government program, then it is paid by insurance companies who pass the cost on to the consumer, mostly the middle class. For that reason, I am cosponsoring legislation to repeal this tax. It’s not just health care; it’s also energy. Last week in an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, I questioned Ms. Mary Hutzler, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Energy Research, about new regulations targeting coal-fired power plants. These regulations will cause electric rates to go up by 10 to 20 percent in most parts of the country. They also will amount to 183,000 jobs lost per year as facilities work to comply with the burdensome regulations. The people hurt most by the increase in electric rates are the poor and the middle class, and those 183,000 jobs lost per year – those aren’t CEOs losing their jobs. If we are to keep energy affordable, we need to access and use all energy sources. We shouldn’t make coal a four-letter word. In Washington, I will continue to look for common-sense solutions to our nation’s problems and work to avoid unintended consequences that negatively impact the middle class. As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. ### Unsubscribe: griffith.house.gov/Forms/EmailSignup/
February 11, 2013
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U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith
Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 2.11.13

Monday, February 11, 2013 –


Religious freedom: from “Obamacare” to peyote

Over the last year or so, you may have heard some criticism from for-profit businesses and not-for-profit religious groups like the Roman Catholic bishops regarding the health care reform law’s mandate that requires employers (including religious hospitals, colleges, charities, and similar institutions) to put faith aside and provide employees with contraceptive services.

The administration has said it is working to resolve concerns that the mandate violates the religious freedom rights that We the People are guaranteed by the Constitution.  However, many are not convinced that the new proposed rules are sufficient to protect their freedom of religion. 

The United States Constitution protects religious freedom, even when a tenet of a particular faith would otherwise be in violation of the law.  Peyote is an hallucinogenic drug historically used in the Native American Church to treat various ailments, and also to trigger deep, spiritual insight and introspection.  Use of this drug is normally illegal.  However, the use of hallucinogenic peyote as part of “bonafide religious ceremonies” is exempt from the law because it is protected under freedom of religion. 

I believe that the Catholic Church and others whose religious beliefs run counter to Obamacare policies should be exempt from the mandate, just as the Native American Church is exempt from a specific drug law.

The Department of Health and Human Services is still accepting feedback on the recently-proposed rules.  You may wish to submit a comment online here:

 

Taxing the middle class

President Obama frequently says he doesn’t want to hurt the middle class.  The consequences may be unintended, but many of his policies seem to do just that.

In regard to Obamacare, President Obama has said "Families will save on their premiums; businesses that will see their costs rise if we do nothing will save money now and in the future.”  

In reality, premiums continue increasing.  Also, employers are eliminating jobs, cutting employees’ hours, or leaving positions vacant to save from spending more for health care.

One of the problems is the new medical device tax that is a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices.  The tax will impact the cost of devices such as insulin pumps, knee and hip replacements, and heart valves, among other treatments. 

Who pays the cost?  The answer is ultimately either you or the taxpayers generally.  If it’s not paid for from a government program, then it is paid by insurance companies who pass the cost on to the consumer, mostly the middle class. 

For that reason, I am cosponsoring legislation to repeal this tax.

 

It’s not just health care; it’s also energy. 

Last week in an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, I questioned Ms. Mary Hutzler, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Energy Research, about new regulations targeting coal-fired power plants.  These regulations will cause electric rates to go up by 10 to 20 percent in most parts of the country.  They also will amount to 183,000 jobs lost per year as facilities work to comply with the burdensome regulations. 

The people hurt most by the increase in electric rates are the poor and the middle class, and those 183,000 jobs lost per year – those aren’t CEOs losing their jobs. 

If we are to keep energy affordable, we need to access and use all energy sources.  We shouldn’t make coal a four-letter word. 


In Washington, I will continue to look for common-sense solutions to our nation’s problems and work to avoid unintended consequences that negatively impact the middle class. 

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at

### 

Washington, DC Office
1108 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
T (202) 225-3861
F (202) 226-0076
Abingdon Office
323 West Main St.
Abingdon, VA 24210
T (276) 525-1405
F (276) 525-1444
Christiansburg Office
17 West Main St.
Christiansburg, VA 24073
T (540) 381-5671
F (540) 381-5675
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