Freedom

March 14, 2012 - 1:28 pm
Irradiated by LabRat
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Arizona proposes bill allowing employees to demand medical record proof birth control pills are being used for “nonsexual” purposes

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 Monday to endorse a controversial bill that would allow Arizona employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections.

Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.

“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”

So, freedom, without which we would be just like the Soviet Union, is:

Being given the latitude to ensure that no company dollar, when the company is usually made up of a variety of religious convictions and practices, can be spent on the possibility of a female employee failing to produce eggs that are readily accessible to sperm.

It definitely is not:

Having your medical records remain private, being able to purchase mundane health services on insurance coverage of which you pay part of the premium, or keeping your personal life personal.

Also, since Arizona is an at-will state, freedom is also: being able to fire an employee whose medical records reveal something you find objectionable- but only if they are female, as otherwise you don’t have a legal excuse to demand them.

Remaining health services often covered by insurance imposing a crushing burden on religious freedom in America: STD screening, childhood vaccinations, blood transfusions, pig-derived insulin and heart valves, organ transplants, psychiatric medicine in general (Scientology), medicine in general (Christian Science).

“War on Women”: an invention of Democrats and the liberal media that is in no way implied or reinforced by any legislation generated or defended by actual Republicans.

No Responses to “Freedom”

  1. Sigivald Says:

    I looked at the text earlier, and I don’t think that interpretation is quite fair (see section Z).

    What it does say is that if an employer has a religious objection to the mandate to provide contraception coverage, they can refuse to pay for it, until they get proof that it wasn’t contraceptive in its medical use in that case.

    So, yeah, it “allows” employers to do “demand medical records”, if they have such an objection to providing contraception, and you want them to pay for it on the grounds that it’s not contraception in this case.

    But that happens only when you try to get them to pay for it, and it’s only the “records” proving that it was, in fact, not contraceptive in medical purpose.

    I suppose someone could get fired for revealing something objectionable in that Rx … but it sure seems unlikely. Are Catholic hospitals itching to fire people for having ovarian cysts or something?

  2. LabRat Says:

    Trusting people and institutions not to abuse power given by broadly written legislation: bedrock conservative principle, that.

    Gun rights advocates already know that “shall issue” and other legislation granting broad discretionary power to authorities mostly exists for selective enforcement and is highly open to abuse by its very nature. Why do we suddenly become trusting when the issue changes?

    Besides which, we already “mandate” that people “pay” for all sorts of things that they might theoretically have a religious or ethical objection to, which was the point of my penultimate paragraph. That is the way that health insurance- for which the employee pays as well as the employer- works.

  3. Marko Kloos Says:

    If THAT is “religious freedom”, then the same people who support that sort of bill should have no issues at all with a bill that allows a Muslim employer to demand grocery bills from employees to make sure none of their paychecks go to the purchase of pork products or alcohol.

  4. Old NFO Says:

    Yeah, Marko raises and interesting point… Big Brother IS coming to your house, in your bedroom, and in your kitchen… sigh…

  5. Arcticelf Says:

    Whoever managed to turn the debate from Obama care to birth control is a fuckin’ genius manipulator.

    I’m not sure it was done on purpose thought, and its hard to rule out stupidity for why the Republicans have latched onto this one aspect as the line in the sand.

    And to Marko’s excellent point: does this mean I can check my employees receipts for a pistol and at least 50 rounds of ammo each week?

    AE

  6. Jack Says:

    Nice to see the logic of “*I* don’t want to pay for your X”. has morphed into “I don’t want *you* to buy X”.

    As Robb Allen said, it’s a short trip from demanding Uncle Sam put the condom on your pillow to mandating that he place a Chick Tract right next to it.

    Well when you give someone, especially someone in politics, a shiny new tool, their instinct is to take it for themselves.

    As an aside the idea that your employer is the one responsible for your medical coverage more often than not is really wonky in the abstract. It’d be like if company cars were the norm and “self drivers” who owned or made payments on their own cars were the minority.

  7. Medic3 Says:

    One minor problem in the above analysis: the term “corporation” refers to the insurance company, not the person’s employer. This is in the opening section of the statute where it is not being amended.

    http://e-lobbyist.com/gaits/text/596074

  8. LabRat Says:

    Jack- I quite agree. Very large portions of this mess would not exist if that weren’t the current norm. Nonetheless, it is- and what’s worse, in some cases the employee/student/whatever isn’t provided insurance, they’re mandated to buy the plan through the institution as a condition of employment/attendance. So it’s not just refusing to pay, it’s refusing to let you use the plan they made you pay your own money for. I know when I went to school it was like that- the only reason I didn’t have to buy the steeply priced COBRA plan attached to the university was my fathers’ health insurance had generous definitions attached to “dependent”. If I hadn’t still been insured through them, it was mandatory COBRA.

    Medic: That wasn’t my point. My point was that “employer” doesn’t necessarily mean one heartfeltly religious guy, it could also mean a corporation- and if you’ll read what you link, you’ll see that the original language specified religious employers, as in religious institutions or single, small-scale employers, and widened it to include any employing individual or entity, no matter its size and nature, claiming religious objection. The amended language makes the “religious freedom” claim even less reasonable.

  9. Jack Says:

    Labrat: which is exactly as weird as if attendance/employment was conditional on using the institution’s auto insurance. Unless you happened to be a dependent on a parent’s policy.

    The wookie in me isn’t too irked at institutions and people being able to freely make such contracts, even if they have oddities like: for the first year of the contract you must live on the corporate campus and buy at least 1/3 of your foodstuffs from the company store.

    But when the State steps in (pushed by the legions of busybodies and neo Puritans)… such millstone-style contracts become the norm and suddenly you’re finding that you gotta buy from the company store and you gotta buy their bacon. Even if you never agreed to work for that company.

  10. Kristopher Says:

    Remove federal subsidies for ANY health insurance. Including employer subsidies. And allow providers to ship welfare cases to a charity hospital if they are not in immediate danger.

    This would have a few useful effects:

    Employers would be out of the loop entirely, other than paying their employees.

    Employees can buy any damned insurance they please.

    Insurance companies and health care providers would be forced into the free market, and would have to justify costs to the people paying for care.

  11. Medic3 Says:

    LabRat, I did read it…in its entirety.

    The bill does expand the conscience exemptions previously extended to religious institutions to anyone (person, family, corporation). It also expanded the list of potentially refused drugs from simply hormonal regulation meds (e.g., oral contraceptive pills) to also include “abortifacients” like the morning after pill (Plan B) and the abortion pill (ru-486) as well as fertility ending procedures.

    Furthermore, and far more disturbingly, it removed the language regarding employer non-discrimination for employees getting their own policies or making use of those medications or procedures.

    Given your discussion about the privacy of healthcare information and uncritiqued quotation of the article’s assertion that employers could demand proof of the employees’ non-contraceptive use of medications, I foolishly assumed that you had not actually read the article.

    Far from supporting this bill, I’m just peeved at people ripping it apart for all the wrong reasons (i.e., based on a media article written about the bill) rather than its own failings.

  12. LabRat Says:

    So you originally dinged me for a point I wasn’t actually making, then admit it does exactly what I was bitching about in the short form: it expands “conscience” exemptions very broadly, to the point of granting employers a great deal of latitude to screw with employees, particularly women, for no well-defined reason other than “moral objection”.

    As noted in the previous post, I am trying to do the short form this week, due to time constraints.

  13. Tam Says:

    This is what comes of letting the government meddle in private business transactions. Can’t we let the market breathe, for Vishnu’s sake?

  14. Squid Says:

    Employers already have a great deal of latitude to screw with employees for no well-defined reason. Why else would anyone put up with the risks, long hours, and high stress of starting a business?

  15. karrde Says:

    I think we can gauge how freedom-minded the various political candidates are by how close they come to advocating (with Jack) that this means insurance should be personal, not job-connected.

  16. Will Brown Says:

    So, LabRat, this is your idea of a shorter, less “thinky” post? :)

    Only slightly more seriously, you (and others) seem to be making (at least parts of) numerous arguments regarding the proposed Arizona legislation, some of which appear to obviate others. Example: the objection to having to provide a medical prescription that stipulates a non-birth control diagnosis (if the plan co-financier requests/demands one) as being in some nebulous way different from the already common requirement for the same supporting documentation for other medical services before the contracted insurance provider pays the bill (pain medication, massage therapy, physical therapy … can we stipulate this?). This aspect seems neither original nor especially intrusive (unlike, say, having to reveal actual medical condition/history as justification, which is a different-in-kind requirement from the stated-for-the-legal-record opinion/judgement of your physician – IOW a redacted-for-HIPPA-compliance copy of your prescription for the medication). Is the objection the now-historically-justified policy of employer-paid (in part) “health insurance” in leiu of actual money for services rendered, or that the US requires a prescription for birth control/hormone therapy at all*? Both? What?!?

    None of which should be taken as any kind of endorsement of this stupidity (on several levels) on my part, or that it is my belief that this is in any way a legitimate display of government legislative activity; in my ill-considered opinion it is not.

    *It’s been too long since I was in Europe, no recent evidence; I do know that “birth control” (aka: The Pill, IUD, etc) is available OTC (or “on demand” from a medical services provider) in (I believe) all of W. Europe and Great Britian at least, but I’m unclear if the same drug is also OTC for the aforementioned hormonal imbalance reasons too. Or if the distinction even matters legally. Anyone?

  17. LabRat Says:

    It’s not in the least “nebulously” different, and it’s not merely a demand for a compliance copy of the prescription. The bill specifically asks for “evidence” along with the prescription, and what that might be is not especially detailed and is definitely not designed privacy in mind.

    The other big difference is a demand for “evidence” that the whatever does not violate the employers’ religious beliefs is rather distinct from a demand that a doctor thinks physical therapy is necessary. If you really don’t see why, I point to the rather painfully evident fact that a large number of people in this country both do not understand how contraception works and also apparently believe that its chief users are sluts and whores. Unless I am seriously misunderstanding a standard privacy provision that is not in evidence here, your boss finding out that you are on THE WHORE PILL when they evidently think contraception is intrinsically wrong is a bigger problem than your boss finding out you are recovering badly from the elbow surgery. This problem already exists to an extent with prescription painkillers, but I see no reason why we should add more.

    Yes, I object to employer-paid health insurance as a norm much in that I’d vastly prefer to get a higher paycheck and my own choice in personally purchased health insurance. I’d also vastly prefer that my waiter or waitress get a higher paycheck rather than my having to consider how much their performance and my mood should augment their income on a per-meal basis, but I’m not going to not tip them based on that objection. It’s the world we live in now.

    I see why birth control pills are by-prescription (to drag women back for a regular physical exam, as oral hormones can exacerbate some conditions), I’d roughly prefer they not be, if they weren’t this mess would not exist.

    I can have more than one basic objection, mutually conflicting or no, if only because the whole situation is fucked up on multiple levels.

  18. Dragon Says:

    @Marko – OK…I’m not coming in for or against this, but the way you put it is incorrect…

    An employer who contributes to the health plan (ie: the money paid to the health plan is a benefit TO the employee which the employee is NOT charged for by being taxed on that money) is quite different from an employer who provides member ship to a group plan, but the money comes directly from the employees earnings, which said employee has to declare, then write off the portion (or take a tax credit for) that goes towards funding his/her own membership into the group plan.

    And yes…at one time I was heavily involved in Politics (held office at the local level in a NJ Borough I lived in, way back in the day…) so I understand the nuances. Thats not to say, BTW, that *you* don’t. I’m just sayin’…

    See…for non-union shops / businesses to be competitive with union shops / jobs, they had to offer benefits packages. A medium-sized business that contributes to the group plan and offsets with just 20 to 25 percent being provided pre-tax from the employee *does* have a say, because it is they who are funding the majority of it. I’m sure if the employee sat down and said *you know what? I wanna buy my own insurance, so lets look at how much you contribute on my behalf, and lets now give that to me directly in my paycheck* any business would be *thrilled* to do that. Its why most mid-sized businesses (and insurance underwriters) just LOVE OBambi-care…the burden of providing health coverage will shift to the employee, its a plum handed to insurance companies (they are guaranteed a huge bump in their customer base).

    I’m firmly of the opinion that if you want someone to keep their nose out of your business, then for Christs sake don’t take *free* stuff, because you then are beholden to the hand that is feeding you.

    On the flip side of that is don’t bitch when it costs too much for you to buy your own insurance on the private market. The reason that group rates are lower, dollar wise, is because the risk to the insurance company is spread out across the group. And even if you are in a group with your employer AND the employer contributes nothing (ie: it comes out of your paycheck, along with all your fellow workers) its still going to cost you more as opposed to having the employer offset that with a benefit contribution.

    Again…I’m not for or against the Arizona proposal….what I *AM* for is telling someone that if they don’t like the way that the employers hand is feeding them, they can damn well feed themselves. If they can’t, and need to take a freebie, well then, the employer (or whoever it is that is passing along the free stuff) has a say.

    And this holds with my firmly held belief that if someone is on goobermint assistance and is getting food stamps, welfare checks, etc., the goobermint has the right *AND RESPONSIBILITY* to make sure that the money / benefits are being spent wisely, and used only for necessities.

  19. Mark Z. Says:

    Will Brown: Example: the objection to having to provide a medical prescription that stipulates a non-birth control diagnosis (if the plan co-financier requests/demands one) as being in some nebulous way different from the already common requirement for the same supporting documentation for other medical services before the contracted insurance provider pays the bill (pain medication, massage therapy, physical therapy … can we stipulate this?). This aspect seems neither original nor especially intrusive

    Let me get this straight: Your argument is that because getting health services paid for by an insurance company already requires submitting documentation to the insurance company, it’s not meaningfully different to have to submit that documentation to my employer? Because they’re paying for part of my insurance?

    Maybe I should also have to post my medical history on a sign so that our customers can come in and read it. Because ultimately they’re paying for my insurance, right?

    This is seriously the best argument for state-run single-payer health care I’ve ever heard. If anyone who handles the money that eventually goes to my doctor can barge in and exercise a veto, then I at least want everyone involved to be subject to the 14th Amendment.

  20. Dragon Says:

    @Mark Z. – Ummm…the insurance company requires documentation, so that they pay out for procedures that are neccessary, so as to avoid (as much as is possible) fraud. Insurance companies, like it or not, are not about helping you…they are a profit-making corporation, and in a Capitalist system, they are balancing paying out with profitability. (I’m old enough to remember back in the day when insurance was there to make sure that you were covered for a catastrophe…not for a doctors visit for a flu shot…)

    Again…I’m not for/against the Arizona measure. I *am* all for letting a worker know that if they don’t like the dictates of the company that is paying for the bennies that said worker gets as a freebie, well then go look for another job where you can pay your own insurance and have no-one putting their nose in your business. But dammit, if you’re going to demand that the employer provide health coverage as a bennie (ie: free to you, a cost/liability to the business) then you have no say in the way that they decide that their money is being spent.

  21. LabRat Says:

    Dragon: read the bill closely. The part of the bill that obligated employers to inform the employee prior to hiring that they had “conscience” objections to contraception has been stricken out. So they are no longer even required to warn employees that this is their policy. I know you’re arguing in the general on the principle rather than for this bill, but it strikes me as, shall we say, important?

    I also have noticed- not as a ding against you, but the conservative argument I have witnessed- that the “if you take something at no cost to you and cost to someone else” doesn’t seem to apply to Catholic hospitals primarily funded publically needing to accept public rules.

    One last thing that just occurred to me: why is the burden on the employee to go through the system to opt out of employer-provided insurance (which isn’t always possible- our employer won’t, as much as we would LOVE to) rather than on the employer to buy a plan in the first place that doesn’t cover something they have a conscience objection to? It would be vastly easier from all sides that way, and would not require the interference of the .gov.

  22. Kristopher Says:

    And this argument still skips around the real cause:

    Federal tax subsidies for employer provided health insurance. If you are going to tax subsidize wages, then just do that. Stop compartmentalizing it into “good” things, like health insurance, and “bad” things, like spendable wages.

    This crap is also why wait staff lives on tips … employers don’t get taxed by governments for their employee’s tips.

  23. benEzra Says:

    “Employees can buy any damned insurance they please.”

    Not in *this* world, we can’t. Even if all
    Federal subsidies and “employer subsidies”* were removed. Look up “preexisting conditions exclusions” and get back to me.

    And for those implying the repubs are wouldn’t be pulling this crap in some utopia where there were no coverage mandates, think again. Aescetic/puritan authoritarians have been fighting contraception since it was invented, and there were bans in *this* country long before there was health insurance or Federal mandates for same. Some people just have a deep-seated obsession with monitoring and controlling the sexual practices of others. And this is just part of a bigger picture (most recently, I see that Santorum has promised to crack down on porn if elected).

    It appears the repubs are happy to let the country be sacked pillaged by economic pirates as long as they can control what the serfs do with their eyes, hands, and genitalia. If there was ever any doubt that the once-Tea Party has been totally co-opted by the Religious Right machine, I think it’s no longer a question now.

    *”Employer subsidized” is a red herring. My health care benefits do not come out if my CEO’s compensation; they come out of *mine* (fully loaded rate) regardless of how the employer lists it on the pay stub. Insurance isn’t a gift from your employer; it is a part of your pay.

  24. Kristopher Says:

    benEzra: As opposed to Democrats sacking and pillaging the country by using deliberate inflation by the Treasury and the Fed to pay for trillions of dollars of spending?

    Track the price of gold and a gallon of gas over the last 4 years and get back to me.

  25. Kristopher Says:

    Truthfully, benEzra, this was a masterstroke by Obama’s handlers … distract the public from a defacto 50% tax on all of their wages and saving over four years by poking the sex button.

    Prosecute a catholic org for not paying for elective medicine, and suddenly Santorum self-destructs by leaping into this spiked tiger pit.

    I do hope the Republican Party can figure out that attempts at sex control will be as toxic to them as attempts at gun control were to the Democrats.

    If the Republicans are going to win in November, they need to STFU about ANY sex related item, and respond to all such questions with remarks about $5 gasoline and everything in the grocery store costing twice as much as it did in 2008.

  26. LabRat Says:

    I really would not credit the Democrats with being that brilliant. I think the Republicans are more than capable of shooting at their own feet all by their lonesome.

    To paraphrase a Democrat, “When someone tells you who they are, believe them.” The GOP has not been shy about telling us who they are. Doesn’t mean I have to or will vote Democrat instead, but I’m not about to look away from it for political expedience either.

  27. Kristopher Says:

    The Republican Party is a big tent.

    Barry Goldwater had nothing good to say about the god bothering crowd, and both Bushes managed to keep a lid on them.

    I think Santorum ain’t going to make the cut after this one.

  28. Kristopher Says:

    And I will credit Obama with smarts on this one. He needed a distraction desperately, and by dint of throw crap out continually, finally found one that a Republican candidate would roll in.

  29. benEzra Says:

    @Kristopher,

    I’m not saying the Dems would do better on the economy. I’m just saying the Republican base (and candidates) don’t seem to *care* about the economy. They have so much more important things to do, like making it harder for working families to buy contraception, cracking down on porn at gunpoint, and addressing the existential national crisis of ghey cooties.

    BTW, both parties have been fully complicit in this economic mess. Look up who appointed Obama’s Fed head “Helicopter Ben” Bernanke, or whose idea the bailouts were, and tell me with a straight face that a third Bush term would have been any different.

  30. Kristopher Says:

    Takes two to tango here, benEzra.

    The Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner ( appointed by Obama ) told Bernanke that they were going to buy up their own paper ( which they could not get the European or Asian banks to buy ), and that the Fed needed to authorize the electronic creation of new US Dollars so that the Treasury could buy these IOUs from itself.

    The Treasury can order this, and did so.

    Bernanke didn’t have a choice in this … not that I completely excuse Bernanke … for some reason his old firm just happened to own all those worthless notes the day before the Fed was ordered by the Treasury to buy them up.

  31. phlegmfatale@hotmail.com Says:

    I am aghast.