Well, it looks like the Republicans are still legislating WOMEN'S HEALTH instead of doing anything to employ Americans. It's colloquially being referred to as the Sen. Blunt Amendment to the Transportation Bill.
WHAT?? Women's Health Amendment to a Transportation Bill?
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Jeez, where to begin. How about this...let's begin with the language of this amendment:
"...a health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the essential health benefits package...to fail to be a qualified health plan or to fail to fulfill any other requirement under this title if it declines to provide coverage of specific items or services because -
“(i) providing coverage (or, in the case of a sponsor of a group health plan, paying for coverage) of such specific items or services is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer or other entity offering the plan...
“Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide timely or other access to items or services under this title...because it has respected the rights of conscience of such a provider...”
So what does the language in this amendment mean?
Simply put, your employer will be able to deny ANY coverage of ANYTHING they deem "morally objectionable".
The possible implications?
If you are a woman, your employer could determine a hysterectomy is "morally objectionable".
If you are a man, your employer could determine a vasectomy is "morally objectionable".
Have breast cancer? Your employer could determine that breast re-constructive surgery is "morally objectionable".
If you have HIV/AIDS, your employer could deny coverage for treatment because its "morally objectionable".
What if your employer deems treatment for early-onset Alzheimers is "morally objectionable"?
So who's to say what is and what is not "morally objectionable"? Your employer? Your employer gets to decide YOUR morality FOR YOU?
I again, turned to Facebook (while watching the Senate debate on C-Span) and the post on (President) Barack Obama's "wall" about the vote this morning:
- (post that is AGAINST the amendment) Funny, how everyone is talking about how employers don't want to "pay for birth control". Who says they will be? At most, employers pay a limited portion of insurance premiums. My employer, for example, actually doesn't pay any part of the premium. So, if I'm paying my premiums every month, am responsible for meeting my deductible, making my co-pays, how, exactly, is my employer paying for my medicine? It is none of my employers business what medicine I do or do not take, as long as it or my condition does not affect work. That's true whether that's birth control or sinus medication; and please don't get me started on the hypocrisy that Viagra and Cialis are 100% covered by insurance.
- (post that is FOR the amendment) This is another one of Obama's lies. This isn't about contraception. This is about the government forcing religious organizations to provide "preventive" services for which the organization is morally against. Birth control is FREE in this country. All you have to do is go to Planned Parenthood if you want it.
What the person who is FOR the amendment doesn't take into account is the Republican Party's attempts to DE-FUND Planned Parenthood. This person IS right though, this isn't about contraception. It's about denying prenatal care. It's about denying cervical cancer screening. It's about denying breast health. It's about legislating away women's rights.
And what of the leading Republican candidate for President, Willard (Mitt) Romney? What are his thoughts on this amendment? (by the way, it is totally coincidental that it looks like he's holding puppet strings)
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According to the Washington Post, in an interview with ONN-TV he originally said the following:
“I’m not for the bill. But, look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”
However, afterwards in an interview with Howie Carr, he changes his tune.
"Mitt the Flip" doing what he does best - himming and hawing to reverse his position, calling it a misunderstanding.
Funny though, that the discussion in the Howie Carr interview is about "religious exemption" while the Blunt Amendment clearly is attempting to hide the over-reach allowance for employers.
As I finish this blog post, it is with great pleasure that I announce the U.S. Senate has voted 51-48 to "table" the amendment.
Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe voted to table the amendment, while Democratic Senators Ben Nelson, Joe Manchin, and Bob Casey voted AGAINST tabling the amendment.
(On another note too, right-winger blogger, Andrew Breitbart (the man who unfairly accused Ag Department official Shirley Sherrod of racism) died today.)