Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Some Days the Bull Wins

Happy New Year!

Now let me tell you some crappy stuff that happened this week.

Two courts issued injunctions exempting employers from complying with the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate for employer-sponsored health insurance.

A court in Illinois ruled that a construction company would suffer irreparable harm to its religious convictions if it isn't allowed to switch to (more expensive) health insurance that does not offer birth control, emergency contraception or sterilization.

But, wait! How can a corporation have religious convictions that require protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Well . . .

Remember when Congress tried to reduce corporate political contributions but the Supreme Court ruled that companies had First Amendment rights to speak with their money? (Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010)). Since corporations have a right to speak, they must also have a right to exercise religion. Or, as Mitt Romney put it,

Just to be totally clear here, a corporation is a legal entity that will protect the personal assets of the corporate owner if the company gets sued, but owners can claim that their religious liberties are harmed by corporate regulation. Which is kind having it both ways, no?

So, the Illinois Court found that the husband and wife who own Korte Construction will suffer serious harm to their Catholic faith if they have to include contraceptive coverage in their employees' health plan. Never mind that they didn't care enough enough to determine that the 20 employees covered by this plan enjoyed contraceptive coverage for at least a year prior to filing this case. And disregarding the fact that the company's 70 union employees get the disputed coverage through the union plan, which the construction company buys into.

Also Tom Monaghan, that prince of a guy who founded Domino's Pizza, gets to outsource his current employees' healthcare decisions to the Catholic Church, thanks to a Federal Court in Michigan. His company Domino Farms is free to exercise its Catholic faith, Hosanna!

AND, icing on the cake, both Courts characterized the morning after pill and the IUD as abortifacients! The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists says otherwise, but what do those doctors know? If Tom Monaghan's priest says life starts when sperm meets egg, then his employees will just have to live with that.

Let's all take deep breaths and remember that health insurance exchanges will be live a year from now. It may take a while, but the day is coming when the boss's religion doesn't determine his employee's healthcare choices.

Worse than the insurance cases, Courts are allowing Oklahoma and Texas to cease all state funding of women's healthcare through Planned Parenthood.

Oklahoma will terminate PP's contract to offer pre- and post-natal counseling to poor mothers and to distribute WIC vouchers for food. This decision has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood's relationship with other abortion providers, of course. This will be a great relief to the 50% of babies born in Oklahoma who rely on WIC vouchers for food.

Texas, however, makes no pretense that it has targetted Planned Parenthood for any other reason than that some branches of Planned Parenthood use private funds to provide abortion care. No branches of PP that receive federally-subsidized Medicaid funds provide abortion. But Rick Perry and the Texas GOP has long made it their mission to make sure no poor women in Texas get care from Planned Parenthood. Andrea Grimes at RHrealitycheck.org has been covering this slow-motion disaster. Her afternoon calling state-approved clinics shows the total inadequacy of other providers to serve the reproductive needs of patients who can no longer receive care at PP. 
Nearly six hours of those kinds of conversations later, I found 13 clinics or doctors that take the Medicaid Women's Health Program. Thirteen. Not 181. Why? Because 92 of the state's listings are duplicates. Others are radiology associates and labs and pediatricians and even closed clinics. Others just plain don't take Medicaid.
And that's why I started this blog - because walking around pissed off all the time doesn't help. So, $5 today for Planned Parenthood of Texas and another $5 for Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma.

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