Thursday, March 1, 2012

Putting it Bluntly

Why was the Blunt Amendment not simply laughed off the floor of the U.S. Senate? This is not just about women's right to make their own health care decisions, although that should have been reason enough to defeat it. This is not just about birth control, although why we would even be talking about denying women insurance coverage for birth control is beyond me.

The Blunt amendment would have gone way beyond the restrictions on contraception that have been the subject of so much discussion. It would have allowed any employer to refuse to provide coverage for any health care service at all, so long as the employer asserted that such coverage was contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions. Read it for yourself, and let me know if you think that is not what it says. Whatever an employer finds morally offensive--and perhaps some employers might find the whole idea of health insurance morally offensive--all they have to do is list all of the services that they don't want to cover, and they are off the hook. That is what this proposed statute would have allowed.

I can only think of two possibilities: One, the sponsors of this amendment have a plantation mentality of the workplace that considers it perfectly acceptable for employers to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship if the employer disapproves of the treatment the employee chooses. So if an employer has an objection to blood transfusions, or vaccines, or ultrasounds, or transplants, or whatever else a patient and doctor decide the patient needs, the employer has no obligation to cover such a procedure. Alternatively, these senators are just looking for a way to undermine the Affordable Care Act. They simply never accepted the idea that everyone should have a right to affordable health care, and found a sneaky way to try to repeal some of the central provisions of the law.

Every single Republican Senator--except for one who is retiring this year--voted for this truly terrible idea. Fortunately, the Democratic majority in the Senate defeated Blunt's proposal. People ought to remember that in November.

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