Viewpoints: Many Weigh In On Contraception Controversy; NEJM On Essential Benefits
The Wall Street Journal: The Real Trouble With The Birth-Control Mandate
Critics are missing the larger point. Why should the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decree that any of us must pay for "insurance" that covers contraceptives? ... Insurance is a bad idea for small, regular and predictable expenses. There are good reasons that your car insurance company doesn't add $100 per year to your premium and then cover oil changes, and that your health insurance doesn't charge $50 more per year and cover toothpaste (John H. Cochrane, 2/9).
The New York Times: Tales From The Kitchen Table
Catholic dogma holds that artificial contraception is against the law of God. The bishops have the right — a right guaranteed under the First Amendment — to preach that doctrine to the faithful. They have a right to preach it to everybody. Take out ads. Pass out leaflets. Put up billboards in the front yard. The problem here is that they’re trying to get the government to do their work for them. They've lost the war at home, and they’re now demanding help from the outside (Gail Collins, 2/8).
The New York Times: Whose Conscience?
This aggressive claiming of the moral high ground is close to drowning out the regulation’s supporters, inside and outside of the Obama administration. ... While the policy grounds are fully persuasive – the ability to prevent or space pregnancy being an essential part of women’s health care, one that shouldn’t be withheld simply because a woman’s employer is church-affiliated – the purpose of this column is to examine the conscience claim itself, directly, to see whether it holds up (Linda Greenhouse, 2/8).
The New York Times: Sex And The Secularists
Roughly one in six patients in the United States are cared for in a Catholic hospital. Millions of those patients are not Catholic. So why should they be denied birth control, which doctors and social scientists say is a proper tool for healthy living? It gets even trickier when religious institutions take government money, and dole out policies at odds with the Constitution’s establishment clause. There must be a third way (Timothy Egan, 2/8).
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Find Compromise For Rule On Birth Control Coverage
Some accommodation should be made for employees of religious institutions. Perhaps a compromise could be crafted that would allow women at exempted workplaces to obtain inexpensive birth control or would provide referrals to an insurance provider who provides birth control coverage (2/8).
The Detroit Free Press: Insurance Mandate For Birth Control Attacks Religious Liberty, Should Be Defeated
Nearly three years after President Barack Obama called for the protection of conscience rights at the University of Notre Dame, not only has he failed to honor his words, last month he authorized perhaps the most egregious and sweeping intrusion into the religious liberty and conscience rights of every American citizen. ... The mandate has rightly elicited a vociferous national response (Paul A. Long, 2/9).
The Washington Post: Virginia GOP Shows Its Hypocritical Side On Abortion
Virginia Republicans, always quick to condemn overreaching government intrusions into people's lives, are themselves becoming the High Priests of the Nanny State. In driving a singularly obnoxious abortion measure through the state legislature — one that substitutes their own medical expertise for that of doctors — they are setting new standards for official arrogance and meddling (2/8).
Arizona Republic: Abortion Opponents Lack Follow-Up
I understand the genuine moral convictions of those who oppose the availability of abortions. What I've never understood ... is the lack of follow-up. Legislators seem to have less concern for a child brought into the world than for a puppy brought home from the pound. When a parent finally caves in to a child's demand for a dog, there is often a long lecture about "responsibility." ... But always there is an understanding that you, the parent, will take up those duties if the child fails. ...That doesn't happen with babies (EJ Montini, 2/9).
Los Angeles Times: 'Obamacare' Insurance Exchanges: Let's Get Going
Should (state legislators) start working on an exchange, or count on the law being repealed by the Supreme Court or by a new Republican-controlled Congress and White House in 2013? The answer is that each state should set up an exchange regardless of how its lawmakers feel about "Obamacare," because it would help ameliorate the very real problems consumers face in the health insurance market (2/8).
New Orleans Times-Picayune: Bobby Jindal's Health Care Vision Put To The Test
Though he is not giving speeches about it, Gov. Bobby Jindal has taken on his greatest challenge to make his brand of government work, as he privatizes a large part of the Medicaid system while the network of state hospitals, already facing an uncertain future, closes clinics, terminates programs and lays off hundreds of employees to meet steep mid-year budget cuts (John Maginnis, 2/8).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Local Affiliate Offers Perspective
We disagreed with the premise that an organization cannot apply for funding while under investigation. We believed this to be a nebulous and open-ended criterion for funding that would require Komen to make judgment calls about organizations before any finding of wrongdoing. This type of prejudgment would have made the Komen organization vulnerable to criticism that it was making funding decisions based on political factors, which simply cannot be allowed (Karen Bragman and Kelly Dolan, 2/8).
The Seattle Times: Women Refused To Indulge Abortion Politicking In the Komen/Planned Parenthood Controversy
I think Komen's decision went nuclear because women don't want to be forced to favor the work of one group over the other. Women rely on both organizations for different aspects of their future; both provide services desperately needed by people with no other option. What is so maddening is that Komen, by creating a phony excuse to dump Planned Parenthood, forced women to take a side and they vehemently didn't want to (Joni Balter, 2/8).
The Seattle Times: End The Sweetheart Deals, Overhaul Public School Health Benefits
Taxpayers and school-district employees stand to gain from creation of a state board to oversee a statewide risk pool for K-12 public-school employees' health benefits. The current labyrinth has 295 school districts and nine educational service districts negotiating with individual unions for private insurance plans. Expensive administrative inefficiencies are obvious, but the system offers little transparency for taxpayers, scant opportunity for oversight and vast differences in coverage and benefits (2/8).
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius surprised the health care community when, on December 16, 2011, she announced that there would not be one single national definition for [essential health benefits] ... But in this environment of uncertainty, with sizable preexisting local variability in insurance markets and substantial disagreement surrounding the fundamental value of sharing risk, embracing federalism in defining the EHBs is not just good politics — it is good policy (Alan Weil, 2/8).
New England Journal of Medicine: Fair Enough? Inviting Inequities in State Health Benefits
The Obama administration scored a political point in December with its bulletin on essential health benefits, appeasing critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by giving states the right to determine what those benefits should be. The proposal is politically savvy. But is it fair? ... Unceasing effort to standardize comprehensive health coverage and reach a gold standard of care is essential to attaining this goal (Jennifer Prah Ruger, 2/8).