Yoga! Health-Club Memberships! FREE Coffee at Work!

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

This Wall Street Journal piece helpfully illustrates a key point in the HHS-mandate — and broader health-care — debate: We still await the full panoply of benefits the federal government will regulate under the president’s landmark legislation. 

Just some of it: 

• Coffee. Studies show that coffee can ward off depression, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and sleepiness — which makes it one of the most powerful preventive treatments. Workers who drink java are also more productive and pleasant. While many offices have coffee makers, some employers — most notably those affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — continue to deny workers this essential benefit. All employers should have to provide workers with freshly brewed coffee. Oh, and workers must also be able to choose the kind of coffee regardless of the price.

Republicans might argue that requiring Mormon charities to serve coffee is a violation of “religious liberty” since the Mormon church’s doctrine proscribes coffee, but this argument is a red herring. Leading medical experts recommend drinking coffee. Moreover, 99% of adults have drunk coffee at one point in their lives (including most Mormons).

The Becket Fund, rest assured, is prepared, just in case . . . 

• Salad bar. Studies also show that eating a lot of salad helps people maintain a healthy weight, which is key to preventing diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Admittedly, mandating that employers include a free salad bar in their cafeterias would primarily benefit healthy eaters (women like myself) and raise prices for workers who subsist on junk (most men). However, such a mandate is necessary to expand our access to healthy food. Nanny-state conservatives who oppose this mandate merely want to ban salad and control what we eat.

Republicans may complain that these suggested mandates represent an unconstitutional expansion of federal government power. However, I’m sure Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and your political adviser David Axelrod could produce a legal memorandum explaining why they are necessary and proper to promote our general welfare (and of course, your re-election).

Besides, if you can justify a mandate on individuals to buy health insurance, this should be a piece of cake.

One of the key points to bear in mind when HHS-mandate defenders claim the Blunt/Fortenberry legislation is radical is that the legislation only protects conscience rights as they were in January of this year. Because the mandated “benefits” of the president’s health-care legislation are only just beginning to be presented to us. 

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