In a parting act in the last few days before his retirement, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., introduced a bill that would add a conscientious objector clause to the Affordable Care Act.
Lieberman’s bill, introduced with Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and other Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, would allow those who object to medical treatment for religious reasons to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that nearly all citizens be covered by health insurance.
The Affordable Care Act provides an exemption from the mandate for religious organizations. But Lieberman said he is concerned “the narrowness of the existing exemption infringes on the rights of individuals whose sincerely held religious beliefs would cause them to object to medical health care that would be required under the law.”
“This legislation is a common-sense effort to ensure that Americans are not penalized for practicing their genuinely-held religious beliefs by modestly expanding the current religious conscience exemption in the health care law,” Lieberman and Ayotte said in a statement.
To qualify for the exemption, individuals would be required to waive all private insurance benefits as well as benefits under Social Security and Medicare.
To avoid the tax penalty that is imposed on those who violate the health insurance mandate, an individual would have to file an affidavit as part of their tax return stating that they do not have the required insurance because of sincerely held religious beliefs.
It’s not likely Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would move this bill to the floor, especially since the clock is running out in this Congress.