Republicans efforts to dramatically curtail employee access to health insurance coverage by granting employers and insurance companies the right to deny services based on any moral obligation was defeated in a too-close-for-comfort 51-48 vote.
The amendment, authored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and co-sponsored by Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) was attached to a transportation bill in an effort to secure its passage. Today’s vote was a motion to table the amendment and needed only a simple majority to be defeated or passed.
So while this is a short-term defeat for Senate Republicans the vote-tally shows this is an issue that will not go away. Sen. Blunt argued in support of his amendment that if it didn’t pass the Obama administration could expect litigation over the requirement that all insurance plans make contraception available to women at no cost unless that plan is provided by a religiously exempt employer.
There were a few surprises in the votes. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted to support the amendment as did Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) voted with Democrats to table.
But at the end of the vote it was a only a small majority of Senators who believe that employers’ moral beliefs should not dictate what health care choices their employees have. That fact alone shows us how much work on this issue we still have to do.
Photo from brains the head via flickr.