Yay for all who need/want access to birth control in the US.
Most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans, along with other preventive services, with no cost-sharing such as co-pays or deductibles. This means that after years of trying to get birth control covered to the same extent that health plans cover Viagra, our country will finally have nearly universal coverage of contraception.
This is good clarification on where everything stands right now. Also, written by my smart friend. This is specifically talking about birth control coverage in the state of Texas, where Cheasty and I live.
[NB: the fight over access to birth control will and does affect more than cis women.]
Just like the Obamacare mandate, for a number of years now the state of Texas has had a law in place that requires any insurance plan that offers prescription drug coverage to also cover contraception. That includes all FDA-approved methods, from the birth control pill to diaphragms, to IUDs. (Not condoms, which are sold over the counter, but you get my drift.) Texas is one of 28 states that have such regulations, but even in states without the laws, this was fairly standard practice. The innovation here is that Obamacare promises women access to contraception with no additional co-pay – in other words, free.
But what was the big deal? Hasn’t this “no co-pay contraception” part of Obamacare been in the news for a while? Why, all of the sudden, were Catholic bishops on tv and radio complaining about government interference in their right to religious freedom?
In short, that’s a great question. First of all, the Obama administration did not, as it might appear from the dust-up, just release a regulation solely about contraception coverage. What we’re talking about here are the ACA’s regulations about preventive care. Preventive care includes everything from annual exams to mammograms, blood work, colonoscopies, and yes, contraception.
Anybody who is paying attention has known about these regulations for months. But early last week, The Department of Health and Human Services released their final version of the regulations, and the Catholic bishops were ready for battle.
The original (pre-kerfuffle) regulations contained an exception for religious organizations. So if an organization’s primary purpose is the practice of religion (i.e., a church or diocese), then it doesn’t have to cover contraception through its insurance plan. However, if an organization is affiliated with a religion, but its primary purpose is not the practice of religion, (i.e., Seton Hospital or charities), then those institutions were not exempt.
The Catholic bishops were furious because, in essence, they felt the regulation was forcing Catholics to condone and pay for something that violated their religious beliefs. In an election year where conservatives seem to be grasping at straws, this generated a lot of political momentum.
Friday’s compromise quelled the hubbub by retaining the original exemption for churches, and by setting up a system that will work as follows. If Jane Doe works for XYZ Catholic University and XYZ doesn’t cover contraception, Jane Doe will call XYZ’s insurance company and say, “Hey insurance company, I need coverage for contraception.” The insurance company will then adjust Jane Doe’s policy to cover contraception. XYZ’s insurance plan will pay for it, but the cost will not come out of the plan’s premiums. This way, the employer need not know, nor must they pay.
Wait a second, you say. The insurance company will just eat the cost of contraception?
Essentially, yes. Obama wagered that insurance companies would be okay with this deal because it’s cost effective for them (birth control is way cheaper than an unintended pregnancy), and pretty much, he was right. They’ve issued a statement belly-aching about “setting a bad precedent,” but so far, so good. Churches and diocese and the like will still have the exemption they started with, but all the rest of us will have access to contraception at no additional co-pay, as originally promised in the law.
Disaster averted, it seems, for the time being. While the U.S. Bishops are still not satisfied, it appears most catholic voters support the policy.
Three Democrats walked out of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious liberty and the birth control rule on Thursday to protest Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) refusal to allow a progressive woman to testify in favor of the Obama administration’s contraception rule. The morning panel at the hearing consisted exclusively of men from conservative religious organizations.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), told reporters in the hallway outside the hearing that she marched out because it was being conducted like an “autocratic regime.” The other members who left were Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.).
There are 10 witnesses testifying at Thursday’s hearing. None of those individuals — listed as testifying prior to hearing — are in favor of the Obama administration’s birth control rule, and few are women.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was listed as a witness for the hearing, but Simon Brown, a spokesman for Americans United, told The Huffington Post that Lynn will not be testifying. (He will, however, be submitting written testimony to the committee.)
Democrats say they tried to invite another witness — a young woman — to testify, but were blocked by Republicans.
Issa said at the hearing that he rejected the Democrats’ female witness, Sandra Fluke, because, as a Georgetown University law student who “appears to have become energized over this issue,” she was “not appropriate or qualified.” He said that in lieu of allowing her to speak at the hearing, he instructed his staff to post a video online of Fluke speaking at a previous press conference.
So, this happened exactly a year ago:
I was just about to blog this but Flavia beat me to it. The rage. THE RAGE!!!!!
[NB: This fight over access to birth control affects for than just cis women.]
Just in case you haven’t yet had time to work this out for yourself.
“Now, we are not sure why Foster Friess thinks this will be safer for anyone, then again, he thinks Rick Santorum should be president, so he’s obviously not terribly bright. Please, take your sex advice from us, not him. Having sex with an aspirin between your knees will NOT prevent pregnancy or disease. But it will feel good.”
- Jackie: Better still is your condom/sponge combo. Used correctly, we're talkin' Fort Knox security at a price you can afford.
- Becky: But doesn't all that stuff kill the mood?
- Roseanne: Not as much as a screaming baby with a loaded diaper.