Howard Dean: Employers Have No Right to Make Health Decisions, But Gov't Does

Susan Jones | December 2, 2013 | 5:16am EST
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Fomer Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) in 2004. (AP File Photo)

( - Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a liberal Democrat, says decisions about health care should rest with the federal government, not with individual employers who pay for their workers' health insurance.

"So, you know, this is one country," Dean told CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley on Sunday. "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 talking about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear Hobby Lobby's challenge to the Affordable Care Act's birth control-abortion-sterilization mandate. The store's owners are devout Catholics who argue that the government cannot compel them to violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

Dean, a liberal Democrat, said he has "no idea" how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule: "They haven't been entirely favorable to women's ability to control their own reproductive lives. So I -- but I don't have any idea," Dean said.

"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. 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."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who appeared with Dean, said the federal government should not be making moral decisions for American citizens.

"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.

"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."

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