It’s been a week of outrage with the Republican Party and healthcare (specifically, women’s), and Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) amendment to the Affordable Care Act is certainly the most despicable contribution of all – or as Elizabeth Warren calls it below, “cold, political calculation“:
Last week, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) offered a “conscience amendment,” to the law, pitching it as a way to allay religious employers’ qualms about providing birth control to their employees.
But Blunt’s proposal doesn’t just apply to religious employers and birth control. Instead, it would allow any insurer or employer, religiously affiliated or otherwise, to opt out of providing any health care services required by federal law—everything from maternity care to screening for diabetes. Employers wouldn’t have to cite religious reasons for their decision; they could just say the treatment goes against their moral convictions. That exception could include almost anything—an employer could theoretically claim a “moral objection” to the cost of providing a given benefit. The bill would also allow employers to sue if state or federal regulators try to make them comply with the law.
If Republican leaders get their way and Blunt’s bill becomes law, a boss who regarded overweight people and smokers with moral disgust could exclude coverage of obesity and tobacco screening from his employees’ health plans. A Scientologist employer could deny its employees depression screening because Scientologists believe psychiatry is morally objectionable. A management team that thought HIV victims brought the disease upon themselves could excise HIV screening from its employees’ insurance coverage. Your boss’ personal prejudices, not science or medical expertise, would determine which procedures your insurance would cover for you and your kids.
“Lets just start with what the statute says. The statute says that in effect any employer or any insurance company can decide that it has a personal moral objection to providing any kind of health care coverage for anyone and therefore they’re not going to do it. So, if your employer says, ‘You know, I don’t like that vaccine thing, I’m going to have an insurance policy that doesn’t cover it for your children’… that’s just too bad you’re out there on your own now. This is just a cold political calculation. That they can appeal to the employers and insurance companies, who might not want to spend money, and at the same time try to stir up some kind of misinformation among people of good faith by calling this an attack on religion. I think this is why people really hate politics.” – Elizabeth Warren