It is bad for policy, bad for liberty, and today the Senate faces a crucial vote.
When the Obama administration effectively nationalized American health care, it took over medical decisions best left to individuals. The administration also subordinated religious liberty to politics. Today the Senate will vote on an amendment to protect people of faith.
Obamacare’s chief characteristic is substituting a one-size fits all template for today’s imperfect but decentralized system. Washington insists that it knows best for 313 million Americans and intends to impose its will on the recalcitrant. The latest manifestation of Uncle Sam’s soft tyranny is the administrative diktat that abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptives are forms of “preventive” care which must be provided “free” through health insurance.
The requirement is bad public policy. At the behest of doctors, hospitals, and other providers, states impose roughly 2,000 mandates nationwide. Policyholders have to pay more for unwanted benefits even if they would prefer a scaled-down catastrophic plan.
Now Obamacare has put Uncle Sam in the mandate business as well, hence the contraceptives requirement. But this rule demonstrates another problem with government-controlled health “insurance.” It no longer is insurance.
The purpose of insurance is to guard against the small risk of a major loss. You buy insurance in case your house burns down, not to cover the cost of mowing your lawn. Insuring against recurrent expenditures under your control significantly raises costs.
Subsidizing contraception could save money by reducing unplanned pregnancies, but that can only be determined in the marketplace, not in a Department of Health and Human Services rulemaking process. If so, insurance companies don’t have to be ordered to provide the coverage. Patients also might prefer to prepay medical expenses, even if doing so is more expensive. But then, again, insurers wouldn’t have to be ordered to offer coverage. In fact, today the vast majority of insurance policies cover contraception.
The administration rule is an ideological rather than a medical imperative. Contraception, along with abortifacients and sterilization, has become a wedge issue on the feminist Left.
None of the justifications offered for the rule make sense.
Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the issue a matter of “women’s rights.” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) similarly opined that “We all know how hard the right wing will fight to restrict women’s rights.”
Yet sexually active men likely are as interested in contraception as women. Why doesn’t the administration include coverage for male contraception? Why the blatant discrimination against men?
Of course, men probably prefer that women be the ones using contraceptives and getting sterilized. Indeed, contraception is key for guys hoping “to score,” whether in a one-night stand or extended relationship. The availability of contraception and abortion makes it easier for men to enjoy sex without commitment, historically a prime male objective. Ironically, in important ways — sexually transmitted diseases, for instance — condoms might be a better health bet for women. The mandate is as much a play for the votes of men as of women.
Contraception is not an essential medical service more important than treatment for breast cancer, leukemia, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Or my knee replacement. If contraception should be “free,” why not these other far more vital treatments? Why allow deductibles and co-pays to discourage anyone from getting any medical treatment?
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend blamed opponents for wanting “to fight about contraception being available for women.” Robert Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State similarly charged that “the Bishops” want “to personally cut off access” to contraceptives.
In fact, contraceptives are available to all and no one is campaigning to ban the pill, IUD, or condoms. Saying that insurance coverage is necessary for access to contraceptives is like saying insurance coverage is necessary for access to aspirin. Anyone can buy contraceptives today.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explained that the administration was committed “to ensuring that women have access to contraception without paying any extra costs.” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) declared: “we should try very hard to give women universal access to birth control without going into their pockets.” The New York Times cited “an essential principle — free access to birth control for any woman.”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online