Women are imprisoned in their homes, and are denied access to basic health care and education. Food sent to help starving people is stolen by their leaders. The religious monuments of other faiths are destroyed. Children are forbidden to fly kites, or sing songs... A girl of seven is beaten for wearing white shoes.
-- President George W. Bush, Remarks to the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism, November 6, 2001
Regular readers of this blog are all too aware that the health care debate has very little to do with the delivery of health care, the prevention of illness, or even curing the sick. The majority of the legislation and the debate is about money – How do we pay the doctors, hospitals and other medical providers? And how much? So this is really a political and financial discussion. But not today. Today, religion invades Health Insurance Issues With Dave. And religion never takes any prisoners.
Warning – If you are easily offended, stop now. Come back and visit next week.
Next month marks the third anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The hundreds of pages linked above are the framework, the goals, that serve as the outline that will be fleshed out in thousands of rules and regulations in the years to come. Heavily promoted, from day 1, was that Preventive Care was going to be covered with no copays or fees under all health insurance plans.
Why cover Preventive Care? I don’t call State Farm when I need to get the oil changed on my car. But suddenly we are all going to get our annual physicals for FREE. We love free stuff. Now, if I get my annual exam and you don’t, then this works for me. You are helping to pay for my exam. If, however, we all get annual exams, then we are all paying for our own exams and it’s not really free. But let’s not mix facts into this feel good moment. Three years ago we learned that we were going to get something out of this – FREE Preventive Care.
What we didn’t know, in March of 2010, was that Preventive Care included Birth Control Pills, IUD’s, and the Morning After Pill. Who knew that the something for nothing section of the PPACA would become the most controversial portion of the legislation?
Allow me to summarize this issue by citing one of its most intemperate spokesmen, Kevin O’Brien of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
This isn’t just about big, church-affiliated institutions like schools and hospitals, although they’re an important part of the argument. It’s not even about contraception. That’s just the issue that sparked the argument.
It’s about an individual right to live according to one’s faith.
What Barack Obama thinks about contraception is of no consequence whatsoever.
What each business owner who would be absorbed into a federal scheme to make contraception more widely and more cheaply available – factors that will encourage its increased use – thinks is the only thing that matters.
Those who believe that the government’s plan offends G-d should not have to participate in it. The free-exercise clause in the First Amendment – is in effect everyday, not just Sundays – says so.
And there you have it. My religion, or how I happen to interpret my religion, or the Truth as revealed to me be my spiritual leader will now determine which taxes I pay and what I give or withhold from my employees.
Start with Mr. O’Brien’s fixation on Sundays. For millions and millions of Americans, Sunday is no different than Tuesday. The USA is home to Jews (Saturday), and Muslims (Friday), and, Atheists (no Sabbath at all). And of course, he assumes that all Christian denominations choose to follow, this time, the teachings of the Catholic Church. Do 100% of all Catholics abstain from Birth Control, IUD’s, and the Morning After Pill? 50%? According to Gallup, the number of Catholics who accept the use of Birth Control is 82%.
We would laugh at the idea of Orthodox Rabbis trying to outlaw shellfish.
Can we tailor each law to bend to the religious prerogatives of each citizen without devolving into total chaos? Ten years ago we chose to invade a defenseless country that supposedly had weapons of mass destruction. IT DIDN’T. Many a religious leader fought this second war and claimed that it was immoral. Did millions of Americans get to opt out and stop paying their taxes? Of course not.
The paragraph that opens this post deals with our reaction to the Taliban.
Even by Muslim standards, the Taliban is considered extreme in the way they interpret the Koran and how they apply the rules to day to day living. But our friends the Saudis still don’t let women drive.
Would a Saudi, living in the USA, be forced to hire a woman for a driving position? Pay property tax for a school district that had a coed driver’s education program? Pay women the same as men?
Where is the line? Catholicism can make rules, but not Methodists? Shall we poll the Hindus amongst us about our beef price supports? Once you open this door, it will be very hard to close it.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has more than a few problems. We need to determine how we are going to pay for all of the changes that were once thought to be covered. We need to decide whether Birth Control Pills, IUD’s, and the Morning After Pill should be considered Preventive Care and covered without cost to the user. Each person’s personal morality may inform his/her opinion and play a part in the discussion, but religion won’t rule the day.
Not in 2013. Not in the United States of America.