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Howard Dean: Gov't, not employers, have right to determine insurance coverage

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According to former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, employers do not have a right to determine what insurance coverage they will provide, but the federal government does have the right to dictate what coverage companies must pay for, CNS News reported Monday.

"So, you know, this is one country," he said on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley. "We all have to live by a set of things that are passed in Washington and agreed to by the court. We'll see what the court does, but I don't think a particular employer has a right to decide what kind of health care their employees are going to get. That's now in the hands of the federal government, and that's where it should be."

Dean was referring to the Supreme Court case dealing with businesses like Hobby Lobby whose owners object to Obamacare's birth control-abortion-sterilization mandate on religious grounds. The owners of the chain, CNS said, are devout Catholics who say the government cannot compel them to do something that violates their deeply-held religious beliefs.

Dean, an ultra-liberal Democrat who once declared it was the government's job to redistribute wealth, disagreed, and said the government should compel the company to provide the coverage despite their religious views.

"My view of that is we're a single country, and I don't think employers get to impose their religious beliefs on their employees or any other beliefs, for that matter. I mean, this idea that we can pick and choose what we're going to do is a tough idea," he said. "I was deeply opposed to the Vietnam War and I thought it was immoral because we were being lied to by our own government. I still paid my taxes and the people who didn't pay their taxes went to jail."

Dean also said he had no idea how the Court would rule since, in his opinion, justices "haven't been entirely favorable to women's ability to control their own reproductive lives."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., disagreed with Dean, saying individuals, not the federal government, should be making moral decisions.

"I mean, the idea that the First Amendment stops after you walk out of a church, that it doesn't have anything to do with how you live the rest of your life, I don't know very many people of faith who believes that their religion ends with just worship. It ends in how you practice and live that faith," he said. "And now...what President Obama's saying, no, once you step outside that church door, then I get to impose my values on you. Your religious values don't matter anymore, it's my values that I can impose on you. I don't think that's what the First Amendment stands for and I don't think that's what the court will say."

In July, the company was given a temporary exemption from the portion of the law mandating it provide coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency birth control methods, Fox News reported.

The company, however, does offer coverage for 16 other forms of birth control mentioned in Obamacare, Fox added. CNN said the company does not object to covering some forms of birth control like condoms and diaphragms, a fact rarely mentioned by liberals like Dean.

In July, Fox said, there were 63 separate lawsuits challenging the mandate, with 34 of them involving for-profit businesses like the Christian-owned Hobby Lobby.

A decision in the case is expected to be delivered in late July 2013.

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