Yesterday, America’s most well-known breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen succumbed to right-wing pressure and ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood, pulling around $600,000 in grants that allow the women’s health organization to provide breast cancer exams for low-income women. Today on the House floor, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) — a “big booster” for the foundation and a participant in its iconic Race for the Cure event — announced that she would no longer support the organization over it’s decision.
Noting that the foundation based their decision to sever ties on anti-choice advocate Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) “spurious congressional investigation” into Planned Parenthood, Speier blasted Komen for falling into the trap of a “political sandbox.” “A hearing has never been held,” she noted. “I guess it means that Susan G. Komen has become a 501(d)(4), because no longer do they want to be providing nonprofits, they want to become a political advocacy group,” she said.
Speier also pointed out the particular irony of another nearly simultaneous statement from the Komen foundation noting that the rate of breast cancer screening for women without insurance is around 38 percent. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood provided 700,000 screenings for low-income and uninsured women last year alone. By bowing to right-wing fear-mongering, Komen is helping to cripple one of its own key efforts.
Komen issued an updated statement on their decision, “Grant making decisions are not about politics—our priority is and always will be the women we serve. Making this issue political or leveraging it for fundraising purposes would be a disservice to women.” Maybe the organization should take its own advice.
By Amanda Peterson Beadle on Feb 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm
After Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced it would stop providing grants for Planned Parenthood to fund thousands of breast exams for women, many were shocked by the foundation’s decision to cave to right-wing pressure. Credo launched a petition asking people to “[t]ell the board of Susan G. Komen: Don’t throw Planned Parenthood under the bus! Don’t cave to anti-woman extremists and cut off funding for breast cancer screenings at the largest provider of health care for women.” Planned Parenthood released a statement saying they were deeply saddened and disappointed by the decision. “We’re kind of reeling,” said Patrick Hurd, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, which received a 2010 grant from Komen. Hurd said his wife, Betsi, is a veteran of several Komen fundraising races and is currently battling breast cancer.
– Planned Parenthood Exposed! Kathryn Jean Lopez writes at the National Review that the “icon” of Planned Parenthood is crumbling as groups break ties with it and it is “exposed” after undercover work. “To take issue with Planned Parenthood is not to be unkind to women. It’s to seek something better,” Lopez writes. “Komen is not the National Right to Life Committee, the Susan B. Anthony List, Feminists for Life, or your pro-life organization of choice (pun intended). And Planned Parenthood’s ‘war on women’ rhetoric is only looking shriller and emptier this evening.”
– Thank Komen For Cutting Funds To Cancer Research! Now that the Komen foundation has stopped contributing to Planned Parenthood, RedState’s Erick Erickson calls for conservatives to support Komen since it listened to them. “If you are not willing to support an organization that takes a stand you want when they come under attack, you cannot be surprised when less organizations listen to you,” he writes. “So say thank you.”
– Komen Is Saving Lives By Underfunding Research! Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life President, cheered Komen’s decision to break ties with Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood performs abortions. “As a breast cancer survivor, I applaud the decision made by the Komen Foundation to discontinue their partnership with the billion-dollar, abortion mega-provider, Planned Parenthood,” she said. “The work of the Komen Foundation has life-saving potential and should not be intertwined with an industry dealing in death.”
– No More Abortions!Family Resource Council President Tony Perkins said Komen’s decision would stop funding “the nation’s largest abortion provider.” “For too long many people of good will gave money to this foundation to help stop the scourge of breast cancer, not realizing that their money was going to help subsidize the nation’s largest abortion provider,” Perkins said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood has claimed they provide mammogram services for women but recently admitted they do not. Susan G. Komen is right to be concerned about the investigations of Planned Parenthood. The abortion organization has been exposed for covering up statutory rape cases and has a history of Medicaid over-billing and other financial misconduct.”
Mitt Romney argued that President Obama is waging a war against religion during his Florida victory speech Tuesday night and condemned the administration’s new regulations requiring insurers and employers to offer reproductive health care services — including contraception — without additional cost sharing. “President Obama orders religious organizations to violate their conscience; I will defend religious liberty and overturn regulations that trample on our first freedom,” Romney exclaimed, echoing a charge leveled by Catholic groups and Republicans in Congress.
Romney’s meme may play well in front of conservative audiences, but it has no grounding in actual policy and is a complete misrepresentation of the regulation and conscience protection laws around the country. Below are five reasons why Romney is wrong:
1) Religious liberty is protected in the regulation: “The Departments seek to provide for a religious accommodation that respects the unique relationship between a house of worship and its employees in ministerial positions,” the interim regulations says. As a result, houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt and religiously-affiliated employers who do not qualify for the exemption and are not currently offering contraceptive coverage may apply for transitional relief for a one-year period to give them time to determine how to comply with the rule.
2) The regulation expands conscience protections in 8 states:Twenty-eight states already require employers, including most religiously affiliated institutions, to cover contraception in their health plans. The only change is that now they must cover the full cost. In fact, the administration will be expanding conscience protections in eight states, where all religious institutions are required to offer birth control coverage.
3) The regulation does not cover abortions: No matter how much Republicans are hoping to conflate contraception with abortion, Plan B is not an abortifacient. It works in exactly the same way as regular birth control pills.
4) Greater access to contraception reduces unwanted pregnancies and abortions: An overwhelming majority of Americans — virtually all women (more than 99 percent and 98 percent of Catholics) — rely on contraceptives to prevent unintended pregnancies and the regulation protects the religious liberty of women who use birth control for reasons of private conscience. One study has estimated that birth control provided at publicly funded clinics helped prevent almost two million unintended pregnancies and that number will only grow as a result of the new rules.
5) Courts have upheld contraception coverage rules: Courts have upheld challenges to coverage laws, finding that a neutral, generally applicable law not targeted at religion does not burden the right to free exercise of religion. In fact, there is the possibility that a broader exemption would violate the law and allow religious institutions to pick and choose which regulations to follow. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found that the exclusion of prescription contraception from an employer-sponsored health plan constitutes sex discrimination because it only burdens women.
Some conservatives may also see Romney’s effort to “defend” religious protections as a departure from his policies as governor of Massachusetts. In 2005, Romney vetoed a “widely supported bill” making the morning-after pill available over the counter and requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. But after the legislature overrode his veto, he asked his Department of Health and Human Services to require Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception medication to rape victims.” “My personal view in my heart of hearts is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraceptives or emergency contraceptive information,” he told the Boston Herald.
Coming off his big win in Florida last night, GOP front-runner Mitt Romney told CNN this morning that helping the poor is not his priority, suggesting that Democrats worry enough about the “plight of the poor” already:
ROMNEY: I’m not concerned with the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America. [..]
HOST: You just said said, ‘I’m not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net.’ But I think there are a lot of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, that sounds odd. [...]
ROMNEY: The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat party the plight of the poor. And there’s no question it’s not good being poor. And we have a safety net to help those that are very poor, but campaign is focused is on middle-income Americans. My campaign — you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich, that’s not my focus. You can focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus.
Later, Romney said, “we have a very ample safety net and we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it. But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers, we have programs to help the poor.”
Romney’s claim that the safety net is “very ample” suggests a lack of understanding . While safety net programs kept seven million Americans out of poverty in 2010, according to a study from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, government assistance fell far short of insulating all, or even most, poor Americans.
But his comment is especially tone deaf considering that Romney has proposed weakening many of these safety net programs. Under Romney’s proposed reductions in federal spending, it’s likely that Medicaid would be cut by $153 billion by 2016, the food stamp program would have to throw 10 million low-income people off the rolls, and a key program supporting poor children’s health would face cumulative cuts of $946 billion through 2021. As ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky has said that Romney is living in a “dream world” when he claims his Medicaid cuts won’t hurt the poor.
And Romney’s tax plan suggests his focus is really on the wealthy, as it includes massive giveaways to upper-income earners and investors, while doing almost nothing for middle- and low-income Americans.
Republicans in the House are gearing up to repeal CLASS, the Affordable Care Act’s long-term care program on Wednesday. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy and other long-term care advocates designed CLASS to minimize beneficiaries’ reliance on Medicaid by encouraging younger Americans to establish a cash benefit in their working years that would be made available to them should they become disabled. The program offered a small daily allowance — an average of at least $50 per day — but advocates hoped that it could serve as “an opportunity to put government behind an education, a marketing effort….[and] support the purchase of private long-term care insurance alongside a modest public benefit.” The whole idea “was to have people while they were working to establish a cash benefit, that they were going to pay while they were working, that was put in to a trust fund and made available to them once they’re disabled,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) explained during a Energy & Commerce health subcommittee hearing. “It was very much a notion of personal responsibility and not relying on the government.”
In October, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it did not believe Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had the discretion necessary bring the program in compliance with the health care law’s sustainability provision, and would not be implementing the measure. Administration officials and many Democrats, however, oppose repealing CLASS outright, arguing that it represents an important first step towards reducing the nation’s long-term care crisis and could eventually be modified into sustainability. As Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) warned Republicans back in November, “Those who are gloating today about the administration’s decision not to carry forward with the CLASS Act are not the fiscal heroes they make themselves out to be. They have no answers. They have no answers. They have no alternative.”
Indeed, under today’s system, Americans have to spend down their assets to qualify for Medicaid, which has evolved to become the nation’s primary payer for long-term services. Below are seven reasons why lawmakers should focus on reforming the nation’s long-term care infrastructure rather than repealing a defunct initiative:
Medicare dollars spent on long-term care
$0 after 90 days
Medicaid costs are ballooning
Finances 43 percent of all long-term care
Private long-term care market is dysfunctional
2.8 percent of Americans currently have a policy
Percent of people turning 65 today who will need long-term care
Number of long-term care recipients 18-64 year olds
Cost of long-term care
$6,500 a month, $70,000 to $80,000 a year
Savings to Medicaid from CLASS
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) acknowledged yesterday that the repeal effort will likely die in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority. “I think we’d get a majority; I don’t think we’d get 60,” Thune said. Republicans would need to pursuade four Democrats to join their effort in ending the program.
Employment rising in health care: “Health care — including doctors, nurses and hospitals — was the largest contributor to employment growth in the past two years, with a 22 percent share that was almost twice as big as manufacturing.” [Bloomberg]
High-risk insurance pools face lifetime limits: “Thanks to the health care overhaul, most people no longer have to worry about getting sick and running out of health insurance coverage…Unfortunately, though, the change doesn’t apply to plans that enroll some of the sickest people: those who buy coverage in so-called high-risk insurance pools.” [Kaiser Health News]
Judge blocks California from cutting Medicaid: “A federal judge in California issued a tentative ruling that blocks the state of California from cutting Medicaid payments by 10% for physicians, clinics, pharmacists, dentists, ambulance providers and durable medical equipment suppliers.” [Modern Healthcare]
Contraceptives recalled: “Around one million packets of birth control tablets are being recalled in the US, as they might not prevent pregnancy. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said a “packaging error” meant the doses were not correct.” [BBC News]
Single-payer bill struggling in California: “Sen. Mark Leno is trying to get 20 of his fellow California state senators to vote in favor of his single-payer health care legislation this week. The proposed law, dubbed the “Medicare for All” bill, doesn’t look likely to pass.” [Healthy Cal]
Democrats try to amend VA ultrasound bill: “Efforts are under way in the Virginia Senate to modify legislation that would require a woman to have an ultrasound before having an abortion….An amendment being formulated by Democrats would require a physician to offer an ultrasound, but make the ultrasound optional for the patient.” The bill is expected to receive a final vote today. [Richmond Times Dispatch]