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Our Womb is Finally Equal (at least for now)

Most healthcare plans will be required to cover birth control without charging co-pays or deductibles starting Aug. 1, the Obama administration announced Friday. The final regulation retains the approach federal health officials proposed last summer, despite the deluge of complaints from religious groups and congressional Republicans that has poured in since then. Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, but religious-affiliated hospitals and universities only get a one-year delay and must comply by Aug. 1, 2013. – The Hill

Viagra has been covered in health care policies for years. Now, the Obama administration has instructed the Department of Health and Human Services that universal contraceptive coverage will now be part of every employers health care plan. An exception will be made for religious zealots, represented by Rick Santorum and the anti birth control contingent on the religious right, which lives in both political parties.

Pres. Obama’s Affordable Care Act is not a great bill, so don’t get me started. However, there are really important parts of it worth praising. What the right likes to call Obamacare covers preventive health services for free for women, with the definition of what that means a step by step process. The announcement today on contraceptive coverage is one of those steps.

As a reminder, here’s part of what was announced in August 2011:

Today’s announcement builds on that progress by making sure women have access to a full range of recommended preventive services without cost sharing, including:

  • well-woman visits;
  • screening for gestational diabetes;
  • human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
  • sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
  • domestic violence screening and counseling.

I’m all for applauding this action, but as a liberal, I find the notion of universal birth control a public health issue, for which there should be no religious exception for institutions. That should be a personal choice issue, not an institutional one. I also believe that universal health care is a right, not a privilege. Unfortunately, if you’re poor it’s the latter.

For the bots ready to blow, this isn’t about Pres. Obama, because any Democratic president would be offering this very thing, with the religious exception, because that’s what the big two parties are all about, the larger public and good of the poor always secondary. So, excuse me if I find any applause as silly as cheering for the Lily Ledbetter Act, which is the bare minimum women of all political parties should expect from our politicians in the second decade of the 21st century.

But for some reason women in this country are always satisfied with less, putting political allegiances above issues of equality that should bring all women together. Partisanship separates us from accomplishing the biggest goals, which include bringing poor women into the fold, which can only happen through universal health care.

To drive home the point of just how backward our country remains, read Sarah Posner on the challenges already moving against the Obama administration’s sanity:

UPDATE: The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which, as I reported in my long religious freedom piece, represents both a Catholic college and an evangelical university in challenging the rule, has issued a statement (tellingly calling the rule an “abortion drug mandate”) claiming that the rule will not withstand constitutional scrutiny. As other observers have noted, opponents of the contraception mandate have claimed that the Supreme Court’s recent decision in EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor, which recognized a “ministerial exception” that prevents churches from being by “ministerial” employees under federal employment discrimination laws. The Beckett Fund makes this argument in its statement, but legal observers have noted the narrow holding in that case. The opponents of the Obama administration decision like the Beckett Fund does in its statement, will attempt to make the Hosanna-Tabor into a broad statement against government interference in church affairs in an attempt to bolster their claims against the contraception mandate.

Release the lawyers and let them fight it out.

We’re allowing serious encroachment into freedoms won through Griswold and Roe v. Wade already, something I write about at length in my book, in the chapter “Is Freedom Just for Men?” People on both sides are afraid of the outcome. It’s time Americans see in the light of day what’s happening in secret across this country, which amped up after Democrats blew the 2010 midterm elections, releasing an assault on unions, the middle class, as well as a war on women from the right.

This issue is one reason I find Ron Paul’s squeals of liberty absurd, even hypocritical. He makes a mockery of his Libertarian stance when he puts himself on the side of the freedom is just for men crowd. He said in the debate that abortion is violent and he’s against violence. I guess he never considers the violence that hits a woman who is hit with an unwanted pregnancy she can’t handle. Has he never seen a poor woman in the throes of this type of destruction? Can he not imagine her anguish? Unfortunately, very few politicians can today, because we have a dearth of truly inspiring and compassionate leaders.

Women’s individual freedom is actually a conservative notion. Don’t tread on me and individual rights, which are heralded as sacrosanct on the right by conservatives, stop when it comes to a woman’s own freedoms for them, but as we saw in the health care debate, for Democrats, too. Why people don’t see this hypocrisy for what it is astounds me.

Music provided by the great chirp Etta James who passed away today.

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18 Responses to Our Womb is Finally Equal (at least for now)

  1. Art Pronin January 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    this si a wonderful advance today. then you look at sc! yikes. newt on the rise

  2. Solo January 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    “For the bots ready to blow, this isn’t about Pres. Obama, because any Democratic president would be offering this very thing”! LOL! I gotta give it you, your consistent!

    • secularhumanizinevoluter January 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      Wow! All of a sudden, with polls showing luke warm enthusiasm for Obama’s re-election, he starts doing things that should have been no brainers but have taken forEVER instead. And you seem to expect shouts of joy and wild applause. Then whine when it doesn’t happen.  LOL! I gotta give it TO you, your consistent! But your lips must be getting chapped from fluffing the big O so much.

      • Solo January 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

        You marshans really like the word fluffing!

        • secularhumanizinevoluter January 21, 2012 at 7:13 am #

          Simply trying to accurately portray your function.

    • Taylor Marsh January 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

      Please don’t truncate what I wrote, solo, it’s dishonest, because the entirety of it matters and is as follows:

      For the bots ready to blow, this isn’t about Pres. Obama, because any Democratic president would be offering this very thing, with the religious exception, because that’s what the big two parties are all about, the larger public and good of the poor always secondary.

  3. fangio January 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    So I guess we have finally reached the last stop on the train to nowhere.  After centuries of never ending religious war the Europeans saw the light.  Religion was put in it’s place and a secular government made the rules.  When the secular government collapsed,  as in Bosnia,  their were the expected results.  Europe thought they had put all that behind them and were shocked to discover that  “  people of faith  ” had not changed at all.  So it is with the religious right in this country.  Are they so different from the Israeli men who make women sit in the back of the bus,  or  the Saudi religious police who tried to keep young girls from escaping a burning building because their heads were not covered,  or the new religious police in Egypt who accost women on the street and accuse them of being dressed immodestly and to go home and change.  The whips they carry are no doubt a symbol of gods divine grace.

    Nowhere in the sacred constitution does it say that religious institutions can do whatever they please;  nowhere.  I recall the pharmacist’s who refused to dispense the morning after pill because it was against their moral teachings.  That such a thing would be allowed in this country horrified me.  If you can’t do your job or don’t want to do your job then you know where the door is.  The same is true for Catholic hospitals and Catholic healthcare centers;  if you serve the public then you do what the secular government tells you to do.  Reagan and Bush let these people out of their cages and over the years they have wormed their way in to every corner of our society.  They are arrogant and authoritarian in nature;  they care not a wit for individual rights unless it happens to be their own.  I will say without hesitation that I am sick of  “  people of faith.  “  I hate that phrase,  it’s as if their better than everybody else.  What exactly is it that makes them better,  I must of missed it.

    • secularhumanizinevoluter January 21, 2012 at 7:16 am #

      ” What exactly is it that makes them better, ”

      I am surprised at you….they are better because they base their world view in a superstitious belief in an invisible friend/terrorist in the sky silly!

  4. Joyce Arnold January 20, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I’m glad for every step, but I’m very strongly of the “health care is a human right” crowd. The steps are good, but the results of not having access to affordable health care are horrendous.

    Etta James … she will so be missed. What an amazing voice.

    • Lake Lady January 21, 2012 at 10:11 am #

      Joyce, even Margaret Thatcher thought healthcare was a human right.

      I so agree about Etta! I love her work and have lots of it. She helped me get through a few fights with the men in my life. I always turned to her when I felt rebellious and wronged. I will miss her spirt and one of a kind voice. I think I will do an Etta review all weekend.

  5. spincitysd January 21, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    I’m with Fangio here (shocking, I know.) The Federal Government hands out the cash, it therefore gets to set the rules. As a high wall church-state separatist, I would rather not see any federal funds go to any private religious institution, for any reason, period. Money is fungible, so there is no real, honest way the government, nor the religious institution, could build a fire wall between the religious activities of organization, and the charitable activities of that said organization. Thus any funds given to a Religious charity is always, even if unintentionally, a government support of Religion; an establishment of religion.

    Private religious charities are best supported by private means. The public good is best supported by public institutions; i.e. federal, state, county, and local institutions, supported by tax dollars and accountable to we the people. If Religious institutions want to take up the burden of the secular government, hello Daughters Of Charity, then they must play be secular rules; no carve outs, no exceptions, no fooling around. If those rules are too much of a burden, they can always exit stage left.

    There is both a good governmental reason, and a good religious reason, for such separation. Government corrupts religious faith as much, perhaps more so, as religion corrupts government. If you have any doubts about how temporal power corrupts religion, peruse a history of the Renaissance Popes, or the “rule of harlots” all the way back in the 10th century.

    The Obama Insurance Reform Act* was a small step in the right direction, but deeply flawed even for all of that. Obama is following the logic that Reproductive Health care is, duh, health care; specifically preventive health care. Pregnancy is risky, unwanted pregnancy even more so. You get better results for women and children if each and every Pregnancy is planned and wanted. The only real things standing in the way of these profound facts are sexual phobia, and misogyny; both supported by organized religion.

    I have no time for repressed and repressive prudes attempting to dictate rules to people outside of their Patriarchal churches. My tax dollars should not go to support your silly obsessions. Provide the mandated services or stop taking government funds.

    * lets call it what it really is, it sure is not health care reform.

    • Lake Lady January 21, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Very well said. Thanks Spincity~

  6. RAJensen January 21, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    The Affordable Health Care Act called ‘Obamacare’ by the right includes many benefits that are miscontrued by right wing talking points.Two added benefits for Medicare beneficiaries are already in place thanks to ‘Obamacare’. Annual physicals no longer require a co-pay by Medicare beneficiaries and the so-called ‘donut hole’ in prescription drug benefits which costs thousands of Medicare recipients thousands of dollars in prescription drugs is already being closed and over time will be completly closed.

    I became eligible for Medicare a year ago.When I contacted Medicare to ask how I could receive the prescription drug benefit I was told that basic Medicare does not offer a prescription drug benefit thanks to the Republican 2004 prescription drug plan for seniors written by the private health insurance and pharmaceutical industry. To get the prescription drug benefit I would have to join a private health insurance company that offers drug a prescription plan. I chose a Medicare Complete plan offerred by United Healthcare. By joining the plan all claims that I may incurr for any reason, hospitalization, primary care doctor visits, surgery, post hospitalization therapies, prescription drug benefits, medical tests are all paid by United Healthcare. All the claims covered are basic benefits (excluding prescription drugs) offered by basic Medicare.

    My annual  premiuim for Medicare Complete is ZERO. How can a private health insurance company make a profit when it charges a zero premium for Medicare Complete? Any claim I might incuirr is payed for by United Healthcare which then turns around and bills Medciare for the entire cost of the claim plus a 14% additional transaction fee for every dollar for every claim.

    The Republicans complaint that ‘Obamacare’ is cutting 500 billion dollars from Medicare benefits deserves a ‘pants-on-fire’ rating from any fact checking orginization. The facts are that ‘Obamacare’ not only doesn’t cut benfits from basic Medicare, benefits have actually increased. The 500 billion dollar in  so-called cuts to Medicare include a reduction in the transaction fee paid to private health insurance companies of 14% down to 7%.

    That’s why the private health insurance industry has gone ballistic when the legislation for ‘Obamacare’ was passed and its implications for private health insurance companies were fully iunderstood.

     

     

    • Taylor Marsh January 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      The $500 billion certainly isn’t what Romney (and Bachmann) has alleged, but it’s quite a bit more complicated that you offer.

      I don’t cite Politifact every time because they’re not consistently correct, but this may help. The part in bold is what’s dangerous, as the doctors I’ve talked to say it will diminish those willing to take Medicare patients. That’s simply a fact.

      Still, where does the $500 billion in future savings come from?

      Nearly $220 billion comes from reducing annual increases in payments that health care providers would otherwise receive from Medicare. Other savings include $36 billion from increases in premiums for higher-income beneficiaries and $12 billion from administrative changes. A new national board — the Independent Payment Advisory Board — will be tasked to identify $15.5 billion in savings, but the board is prohibited from proposing anything that would ration care or reduce or modify benefits. Then there’s another $136 billion in projected savings that would come from changes to the Medicare Advantage program, an alternative to traditional Medicare that has turned out to be much more costly than expected. About 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

      • RAJensen January 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

        The 500 billion is a talking point spouted by the right wing media for example:

        BOZELL: Sure. Well, why don’t they look at Obama’s health care budget? Obama is taking $500 billion out of Medicare. So, if you’re worried about Medicare cuts, why don’t you look at Obamacare, which takes it away? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/27/11]

        ‘Whatever you want to call them, it’s a $500 billion reduction in the growth of future spending over 10 years, not a slashing of the current Medicare budget or benefits. It’s true that those who get their coverage through Medicare Advantage’s private plans (about 22 percent of Medicare enrollees) would see fewer add-on benefits; the bill aims to reduce the heftier payments made by the government to Medicare Advantage plans, compared with regular fee-for-service Medicare. The Democrats’ bill also boosts certain benefits: It makes preventive care free and closes the “doughnut hole,” a current gap in prescription drug coverage for seniors’. [FactCheck.org, 3/19/10]

        22% of Medicare enrollees are covered through Medicare Advantage plans, including me. Every single medical claim that is covered by basic Medicare is payed by the Medicare Advantage providers who then bills Medicare for the the amount of the claim plus a transaction fee of  around 14% for every dollar Medicare reimbursed to the health insurance company.

        As far as doctors refusing to take Medicare patients its a scare tactic and I’ll believe it when I see it. Who would want a doctor who considers a patient a cost center, I wouldn’t.

        http://mediamatters.org/research/201105270037

        The 2004 presription drug plan (unpaid for) was Bush’s first attempt in privatizing Medicare with its legislation that prohibeted Medicare itself to offer any presription drug benefit turning over 22% of seniors over to HMO’s and PPO’s that are costing the taxpayer a fortune with added premium fee given to the Medicare Advantage Providers.

        A first step would be eliminate the Medicare Complete program which charges no premium and allow Medicare to incluide a drug prescription plan as part of basic Medicare saving the taxpayer the 14% premiuim charge for every claim the Medicare Complete providers charge Medicare on every claim .

        As long as Republicans and a handful of blue dog Democrats are in power, that simple change saving taxpayers  billions of dollars has no chance. Some Medicare Advantage programs do charge premiums and do offer additional benefits but they still charge Medicare for the amount of every claim covered by basic Medicare plus the usual insane 14% transaction fee for every dollar.

        If some seniors want to and can afford addtional benefits then let them buy a private health care supplementary policy as they do in the UK but eliminate the practice of allowing the insurance companies to service all claims and add a 14% transaction  fee on claims covered by basic Medicare.

  7. RAJensen January 21, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Etta James was always one of my favorites. While she has been correctly described as ‘Blues’ singer she is also a certified ‘Rock and Roller’, one of the few women elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In a 1986 concert film she joined Chuck Berry and Keith Richards in  a powerful rendition of Chuck Berry’s rock and roll masterpiece ‘Rock and Roll Music’. Etta James stole the show and introduced herself to a generation of young people not aware of her powerful voice which extended far beyond blues and includes gospel music and rock and roll. Enjoy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U4x9mQ5K0s

     

     

     

     

    • Lake Lady January 21, 2012 at 10:23 am #

      RAJensen~ Thanks for kicking off my weekend review!

    • Solo January 21, 2012 at 11:51 am #

      Thanks for the link! That was a great video!

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong