UPDATE: Catholic Analysis has the goods on the hypocrisy of liberals to deny the "choice" of health plans to federal employees.
The Bush administration has broken new ground in its "faith-based" initiative, this time by offering federal employees a Catholic health plan that specifically excludes payment for contraceptives, abortion, sterilization and artificial insemination.
The new plan, announced last week, combines two White House priorities. It is part of a $1 billion project seeking to involve religious organizations in all types of federal social programs. At the same time, the plan is a new form of coverage - a health savings account combined with high-deductible coverage - that is being promoted as a centerpiece of President Bush's health care policy.
The plan, which will begin enrolling federal workers in 31 Illinois counties in November, is sponsored by OSF Health, a unit of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, which runs the St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria and five Roman Catholic hospitals in Illinois and Michigan.
This is the first plan for federal workers "that has tailored its benefits in line with a set of tenets that are supported by the Catholic church," said Abby Block, a senior official in the Office of Personnel Management, which manages the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, the nation's largest purchaser of health insurance. It is also the first to be to marketed as "faith-based.''