Don’t be fooled: the Republican’s aren’t out simply out to make it impossible for women to have control over their health insurance coverage. They are out to make it impossible for anyone to control their insurance coverage. They just see attacking contraceptive coverage as the way to get there.
Republicans finally showed their hand in the form of a new bill that would allow employers and insurance companies to pick and choose which health benefits to provide based simply on executives’ personal moral beliefs. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is fully behind the proposal and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he plans on letting the measure come to a vote this week.
The goal is simple: create a religious conscious exception so large health care reform becomes meaningless.
The proposal is known as the Blunt amendment, named after sponsor Sen Roy Blunt (R-Mo). His amendment would allow any insurer or employer, religiously affiliated or not, to opt out of providing any health care services required by federal law. That means everything from prenatal care to diabetes screening would be fair game for employers and/or insurance companies to decline coverage for based on personal “moral” objections.
The bill also effectively screens employers and insurance companies from liability for coverage denials. Employers would not have to cite specific religious reasons for their decisions. Instead, simply stating a given treatment goes against their moral convictions would suffice. And the bill allows employers to sue if state or federal regulators try to enforce coverage.
Let’s be clear here. This is a full-throated assault on the consumer protections afforded under health care reform. But it’s worse. If the Blunt amendment passes and becomes law, what’s to stop Republicans from offering these kinds of expansive and unrestricted conscious clause exceptions to other laws, say civil rights laws. After all, Republicans bemoan civil rights legislation as an assault on personal liberty, surely that qualifies as a personal moral offense that would justify broad grants of exclusions from anti-discrimination laws.
And that may be exactly what the Republicans have in mind.
Photo from nateOne via flickr.