All In

When you play poker, and you’re not very good, there invariably comes a time when your chips are getting low, the blinds are getting higher, and you need to go all in with a bad hand.  That seems to be what the GOP is about to do on birth control:

Republicans are doubling down in their assault on President Obama’s birth control requirement, insisting that his accommodation of religious nonprofits does not address religious concerns. But by attempting to keep the heat on Obama, the GOP might be diving head-first into a culture war over contraception that social conservatives lost long ago in the minds of the public.

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the House will push to repeal the rule entirely, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Republicans will force a vote on legislation permitting any employer to deny birth control coverage in their health insurance plan by claiming a moral or religious objection. “This issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down,” McConnell said Sunday on CBS’ Face The Nation.

Perhaps concerned that the economy is on the rebound and not the weapon against Obama that it was even 6 months ago, and increasingly aware that they’ve fielded a very weak field of presidential candidates, the GOP is going all in with a pair of 4′s.  The funny thing about it (if it can fairly be said that there’s anything funny about this craven attempt to walk back decades of advances regarding women’s rights and public health) is that the GOP went all in AFTER Obama called their bluff by addressing the main concern raised by religious groups. 

Republicans have been left to argue not only that religious organizations/hospitals/schools need not provide insurance that includes birth control, but that ANY employer be allowed to refuse such coverage.  Under the GOP’s proposal, you might find that birth control is no longer available under your insurance because your boss thinks it’s a sin.  The claim of “religious liberty” we heard over the past week has quickly evolved into a demand for american theocracy – where church governs in place of state.  The problem for the GOP is that an overwhelming majority of women and men don’t want religious groups telling them they can’t have access to birth control.  If the GOP tries to push this legislation through, it will make the backlash over the payroll tax look mild by comparison.

For people who so clearly despise the President and whatever he stands for, the Republicans sure seem to be doing everything they can to ensure his reelection.

This entry was posted in 2012, Health Care and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

    Republicans have been left to argue not only that religious organizations/hospitals/schools need not provide insurance that includes birth control, but that ANY employer be allowed to refuse such coverage.

    So, I don’t get the whole insurance thing to begin with.

    For example, say you and I open a laundry and hire people. Being caring individuals, we include, as a part of the compensation package, health insurance. We might do this because it’s a decent thing to do as a boss. Additionally, by providing health insurance rather than cash, we receive a tax break. But that’s another matter.

    So now you and I go shop for the insurance plan our employees will get. Because we don’t have unlimited amounts of money, we wish to contain costs. And, perhaps because we read things and know things, we wanna be careful about the services offered in our plans.

    For example, after careful consideration, you and I decide that aromatherapy is not real and really is just kinda hooey. The same might apply to things like salt lamp therapy. Perhaps even UV light therapy for those dark winter months when people don’t get exposure to the sun. So, because we don’t wanna cover those things, we simply look for insurance plans that don’t include those services. We are careful not to say that we think people who believe in these things are kooks, we just say that we don’t think they work and as a result, would only increase the cost of the plan needlessly.

    On the other hand, there may be services that we DO think are effective and useful. Message therapy for example. Regular chiropractic exams and even yoga. However, because we feel that those are more individual life responsibility things rather than employer “obligation” kinda things, we decide not to include those services when shopping for a plan as well.

    I think this is how insurance planning and shopping should go.

    If we as employers wanna cover things, we can. If we as employers don’t wanna cover things, we should be allowed that liberty as well.

    I happen to think that things like rubbers and the pill are powerful tools that work amazingly well in fighting STDs and unwanted pregnancies. I have NO problem with them being made available, talked about and taught about. However, I do have an issue with being forced to buy someones Trojans. And while I support abortion in certain circumstances, it might be possible that my neighbor doesn’t feel he should be obligated to pay for them.

    In short –if that’s still possible after my wordy reply–an employer should be able to select ANY plan he wants to offer; it’s HIS version of compensation. It is the very fact that government is involved in insurance in this manner that makes it so very very expensive. Not to mention having nothing to do what-so-ever with Liberty.

    • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

      There’s a lot to respond to there, and i hope to address most of your points later today. I’d start by noting that these rules only apply to larger employers (15 employees or more, I believe), so it would be inapplicable to your hypotethetical.

      As for what is and is not necessary preventative care – that’s kind of what the whole debate is about. Birth control, unlike yoga, is being designated as essential. It is also believed to be cost-effective for insurance companies to provide it at low or no cost to avoid larger medical costs down the road.

      • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

        I’d start by noting that these rules only apply to larger employers (15 employees or more, I believe), so it would be inapplicable to your hypotethetical.

        I don’t understand why limiting the freedom of an employer because she is successful and runs a large company makes this better.

        As for what is and is not necessary preventative care – that’s kind of what the whole debate is about.

        I don’t think that’s the debate. Flu shots are preventative care and we don’t give those away for free.

        Birth control, unlike yoga, is being designated as essential.

        With respect, that seems like a random, silly and arbitrary distinction.

        It is also believed to be cost-effective for insurance companies to provide it at low or no cost to avoid larger medical costs down the road.

        Two points:

        1. If that’s true, insurance companies would already offer rubbers for free.
        2. Fresh fruit is cost-effective as well. Eating fruit keeps one trim and healthy thereby preventing the costs associated with obesity. Would you that we require insurance to offer fresh fruit as well?

        • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

          I think there’s some confusion here. First, the birth control policy has nothing to do with condoms. Second, birth control isn’t going to be free under this policy unless you are an employee at a religious-run institution (not a church) that won’t cover it otherwise. That is, it’s only free at the places subject to the compromise offered by the President. Third, you brought up things like yoga, and I was just pointing out that the government has made a decision here (a decision supported by virtually everyone other than Catholic bishops and some segments of the republican caucus) that birth control is an essential form of preventative care. It’s a decision that you are free to disagree with but it is within the power of the federal government to make that kind of decision. There’s not even a legal argument to challenge the rulemaking (many have noted that even Justice Scalia has written opinions suggesting he would find no first amendment violation here) which is why you see Republicans in Congress looking to legislate a different result.

          The issue of employer funded health care is an interesting one. If we could start all over again, it might be that we would handle health care differently and take it out of the responsibility of the employer altogether, but that’s not the hand we’ve been dealt. A distinction is made between small and large businesses out of a recognition that small businesses might not be capable of providing basic health coverage to employees. Once a business grows to a size where it has 15 or more employees, the assumption is that such a business is capable of negotiating reasonable coverage for its employees with an insurance company. The reason the federal government mandates coverage of certain forms of preventative care isn’t just to force employers to provide such coverage, it’s to ensure that such basic needs can’t be negotiated away by the insurance companies.

          • http://www.poisonyourmind.com nickgb

            Just to be clear, the 15 employees rule is an issue of Federal power. All things flow from the Commerce Clause (well, most), and 15 is a magic number that gets you into interstate commerce territory. You find it in lots of different statutes.

          • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

            Yeah, that explains why its constitutional. I guess what I was getting at is why its practical/necessary. It would be unreasonable (regardless of constitutionality) to require a company with two employees to provide health insurance. It’s far more reasonable for a larger company to do so.

    • http://www.poisonyourmind.com nickgb

      There’s a big difference between the religious objections and what you’re talking about. You don’t want to buy someone else’s condoms because you just don’t want your money being used to help other people’s lives in that way. The Church is saying they don’t want to buy someone else’s condoms because condoms are evil and their religion doesn’t allow them to support them. You’re opposed, basically, to health insurance, and the Church is opposed to responsible sex.

      • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

        There’s a big difference between the religious objections and what you’re talking about.

        I agree.

        You don’t want to buy someone else’s condoms because you just don’t want your money being used to help other people’s lives in that way.

        Again, this is correct.I chose not to contribute to a condom distribution charity in the same way I chose not to contribute to a running shoe distribution charity. Both are good and even noble causes; safe sex is good and running is good. Both, however, are lower on my list of charities than others.

        The Church is saying they don’t want to buy someone else’s condoms because condoms are evil and their religion doesn’t allow them to support them.

        Correct. Now, I think I agree with you that you think this is a crazy religious stance to have; I think it makes no sense [but does make more Catholics heh heh heh]. However, I think it’s a reasonable thing not to force religions to engage in behavior they find unacceptable.

        An example would be inter-racial marriage [and gay marriage soon by the grace of God]. The government rightly thinks that a black gal can marry a white guy. In fact, it’s against the law for a state to prohibit that. However, we would never consider forcing a church to perform the ceremony if that church was so inclined.

  • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

    First, the birth control policy has nothing to do with condoms.

    I’m not sure what you mean. Of course condoms are a form of birth control. And, they are covered by this mandate. In addition to rubbers, the mandate covers the pill, diaphragms and Depo-Provera shots.

    If it didn’t cover things like that, how would it be preventative care?

    Second, birth control isn’t going to be free under this policy unless you are an employee at a religious-run institution (not a church) that won’t cover it otherwise.

    I wonder if we’re talking about the same story. Of course it’s free. And it’s free to all employees with an exception going to churches [and maybe business with less than 15 employees]. That’s the mandate AND the fact that it’s required is the cause of the uproar.

    the government has made a decision here (a decision supported by virtually everyone other than Catholic bishops and some segments of the republican caucus) that birth control is an essential form of preventative care.

    Well, birth control IS preventative care. But other than that, this doesn’t seem to matter. It can be essential or even the very definition of it. Who cares? The point is that you and I should be free to pick and choose which services we wanna insure for our employees. The example I used makes light of the fact that some people really think yoga should be covered by insurance. An opinion that is open to debate. And whether or not you feel one way or the other doesn’t change the fact that we should be free to purchase a plan that does, or doesn’t, cover yoga – or Trojans.

    Earnest question: Is there a product, once deemed “required” by the government, that could not be mandated by that government?

    For example, can the government mandate that everyone own a gun? And if they CAN mandate that, would you oppose such legislation?

    • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

      this is the first i’ve heard about condoms being covered. what’s your source? I looked here and condoms weren’t listed http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501367_162-57375530/q-a-obama-and-the-birth-control-controversy/

      As for whether or not it is free: Your company pays for insurance coverage. That money goes to the insurance company and then the insurer covers what it needs to – that now includes birth control. That doesn’t mean that its free (you are paying for coverage) and there may very well be copays in addition. The only instance where it is free is if you fall under the new accomodation, which allows the employer to avoid paying for birth control coverage but forces the insurance company to provide it for free.

      As for your hypothetical where we get to pick and choose what we want to cover, that doesn’t work in real life because the insurance companies are enormous and they dictate their coverage to small businesses (not the other way around). That’s the reason why the govt needs to step in and require that certain things are covered.

      • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

        this is the first i’ve heard about condoms being covered. what’s your source?

        Wow, you might be right; though I don’t think so. The mandate is meant to cover contraception. Very few articles get into the specifics and I can’t find a definitive list. By chance, this is one of the articles I read:

        http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/middle-class-guy/2012/feb/8/new-obamacare-birth-control-mandate-it-fair-and-eq/

        The only instance where it is free is if you fall under the new accomodation, which allows the employer to avoid paying for birth control coverage but forces the insurance company to provide it for free.

        The company won’t lose the money; they’ll pass the cost on.

        That’s the reason why the govt needs to step in and require that certain things are covered.

        Let’s say I cede that point.

        Is there a limit on what the government can mandate? Serious earnest question:

        Can they mandate that we purchase 3 servings of fruit a day? Can they mandate that health insurance provide 3 servings of fruit per day?

        • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79

          Could they mandate that insurance coverage include 3 servings of fruit? .I’m guessing not, since you’re talking about food and not medicine/medical devices/medical treatment.

          As for the scope of what they can and cannot mandate, we’d have to look at the statute and the regulations implementing the statute to see what the scope is.

          Could they mandate that we purchase three servings of fruit a day? No, they cannot.

        • http://www.tarheelred.com/ Pino

          Wow, you might be right; though I don’t think so.

          I’m moving closer to the “you are right camp”.

          I’m wondering if they are referring to prescription contraceptive medications and devices? If that’s the case, I’m guessing condoms aren’t covered.

    • http://poisonyourmind.com dedc79