The Morning Joe panel continued its discussion today about the HHS mandate, what it means for religious institutions and the Obama administration.
Mika Brzezinski talked with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., about the issue. Coburn, a medical doctor, has had issues with HHS in the past.
The issue has continued to gather steam, and on Wednesday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney got into a back-and-forth debate with Mitt Romney on the issue.
But here's what he had to say about the contraception mandate. We'll have the video for you shortly.
Sen. Coburn: This is blown out of proportion, but it is an important point in terms of religious liberty, but it’s the consequence of having too big of a government. And well-meaning people; there’s nothing wrong with their motivation. They’re well-meaning people, but the consequence is we lose liberty.
Mika Brzezinski: OK, I just have one more question, and I’ll put it to the table if I may. [To Sen. Coburn] You’re a doctor, and I don’t know if this is really about controlling or attacking the rights of religious institutions. It seems to me, and what would you say, to a maybe hourly-wage worker at a hospital, a Catholic hospital, who might need a third party to cover the co-pay on contraception? Would you think at least making the playing field fair in terms of costs is something the government could help the American public with?
Coburn: Mika the playing field is already level. She can go to the county health department and get the birth control pills for free. We spend $300M on birth control pills through HHS through county health departments now. It’s not that it’s not available; it’s that we want to make a change and mandate through the government. We already have programs available for anybody who can’t get birth control to get it. They can get it. What we’re doing now [with HHS mandate] is say ‘Here’s what you must do even if it violates your religious principles.’