Defending her party after some of its members spent months going after contraception, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said today that birth control isn’t very important to women. “Women don’t care about contraception,” she said on The View.
When host Joy Behar pushed back, Haley acknowledged that women do care about contraception, but she argued they care about it less than other issues.
HALEY: Women don’t care about contraception, they care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all those other things–
BEHAR: Well, they care about contraception too.
HALEY: But, that’s not the only thing they care about. The media wants to talk about contraception.
BEHAR: But when someone like Rick Santorum says he’s going to take it away, we care. [Applause]
HALEY: Well, while we care about contraception, let’s be care. All we’re saying is we don’t want government to mandate when we have to have it or when we don’t.
In fact, polling suggests women really do care about contraception, and that the time spent debating the issue has hurt Republican lawmakers and candidates. 98 percent of even Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lives, and most support requiring employers’ health insurance to provide coverage for contraception. (HT: Mediaite)
President Obama described the Republican budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as “laughable” during a speech at the Associated Press Luncheon on Tuesday and said that Ryan’s Medicare “premium support” plan would “end Medicare as we know it.” In a preview of his general election pitch, Obama argued that the GOP blueprint cuts essential government programs that help lower and middle class Americans in order to pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich, before laying out his opposition to the party’s Medicare and Medicaid reforms.
“We’re told that Medicaid would simply be handed over to the states,” Obama explained. “But here’s the deal the states would be getting. They’d have to be running these programs in the face of the largest cut to Medicaid that has ever been proposed.” According to the Center on Budget and policy Priorities, the Ryan budget would reduce federal spending on Medicaid by $810 billion and would provide states with smaller “block grants” to run their health care programs. “A cut that according to one nonpartisan group would take away health care for about 19 million Americans,” Obama said, before turning to the GOP’s proposal to transform Medicare into a premium support structure:
OBAMA: Instead of being enrolled in medicare when they turn 65, seniors to retire a decade from now would get a voucher that equals the cost of the second cheapest health care plan in their area. If Medicare is more expensive than at private plan, they will have to pay more if they want to enroll in traditional Medicare. If health care costs rise faster than the amount of the voucher, as, by the way, they have been doing for decades, that’s too bad. Seniors bear the risk. If the voucher is not enough to buy private plan with bit specific doctors and carry need, that’s too bad. Most experts will tell you the way this voucher plan encourages savings is not through better care or cheaper costs. The way these private insurance companies save money is by designing and marketing plans to attract the youngest and healthiest seniors, cherry picking, leaving the older and sicker seniors in traditional Medicare where they have access to a wide range of doctors and guaranteed care, but that makes the traditional Medicare program even more expensive and raises premiums even further. The net result is our country will end up spending more on health care and the only reason the government will save any money is at — is because we have shifted it to seniors. They will bear more of the costs themselves. It is a bad idea. It will ultimately end Medicare as we know it.
Indeed, a Center for American Progress analysis of Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data finds that new Medicare beneficiaries could actually end up paying as much as $1,200 more per year by 2030 and $5,900 more per year by 2050 for health care benefits. The Republican budget would shift these costs to beneficiaries by limiting the growth in Medicare spending per beneficiary to growth in the economy plus 0.5 percentage points — a rate that is much slower than the projected growth rate under current law.
As a result, under their budget, CBO projects that average spending would rise to only $7,400 in 2030 and to only $11,100 in 2050. Since the Republican budget would convert Medicare spending into vouchers, these dollar amounts would be the amounts of the vouchers, on average. In other words, “CBO projects that government spending per beneficiary would be $1,200 lower in 2030 (the difference between $8,600 under current law and $7,400 under the Republican budget) and $5,900 lower in 2050 (the difference between $17,000 under current law and $11,100 under the Republican budget).”
The Republican budget never specifies how it planst to enforce its cap on Medicare spending and in the absence of any other enforcement mechanism, it’s likely that the cap would be enforced by limiting the amount of vouchers provided to beneficiaries. After all, we know that capping the vouchers is the clear policy goal of Republicans—we need look no further than the budget they proposed last year. The vouchers, therefore, would likely be capped at CBO’s projected spending per beneficiary under the Republican budget: $7,400 in 2030 and $11,100 in 2050. And since these amounts would be much lower than actual costs, beneficiaries would be left to pay the difference.
Xavier University Halts Contraception Coverage |
Xavier University will stop offering contraception coverage through its health plan this summer, according to a report from WLWT News. The Jesuit university will no longer cover birth control or sterilization except for non-contraceptive reasons. Recently, several Protestant colleges warned they might discontinue health insurance to students if the Obama administration did not alter its contraception rule. Some other Catholic universities, like the University of Dayton, have offered contraception coverage in the past and say they will continue to do so. The Obama regulation allows religiously affiliated organizations to opt out of offering birth control.
Snowe: Birth Control Controversy Is A ‘Retro-Debate’ |
Since the Obama administration announced that most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans without additional co-pays or deductibles, most Republicans have characterized the regulation as an attack on religious freedoms. But last night, retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) said at a Women’s Campaign Fund gala that it was surprising that today’s political debate “comes to contraceptive coverage.” “I feel like it’s a retro-debate that took place in the 1950s,” she said. “It’s sort of back to the future, isn’t it? And it is surprising in the 21st century we would be revisiting this issue.” Snowe, who opposed the GOP’s anti-contraception Blunt amendment, added that Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke should have been commended for speaking out in favor of contraceptive coverage rather than being attacked for her views.
During a town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) on Monday, Mitt Romney proposed lowering health care spending by shifting more costs to the beneficiaries and working “with the principles that exist in the consumer market” to control spending. Responding to a question about health care costs, the former Massachusetts governor suggested that sicker Americans would use less care if they paid more for it and shopped around to different providers looking for the best possible deal:
ROMNEY: If you’re unfortunate enough to get a very serious condition and you have the insurance most people have. You pay the deductible and then it’s free! And so, you’ll go to a doctor and a hospital. You’d never think of asking about how much it’s going to cost because you don’t pay the bill — the insurance company does. In other countries like Switzerland, they have the patient pay 20 percent of the bill for elective surgeries and of course if it’s an emergency they don’t. But that gives you the chance to shop around….I’m also not naive enough to think that there would be a heck of a lot of problems that would be better run if we got the government out and turned back to the free market.
Republicans like to claim that exposing people to the true cost of health care — that is, putting more skin in the game — would discourage overtutilizaiton of care and force health care beneficiaries to act more like consumers, shop around, and select the best deal for a given service or treatment.
The theory sounds good, but there is very limited evidence that it actually works. After all, insurers have been shifting individuals into high-deductible plans for some time now, but premiums and prices continue to increase. It turns out that buying health care is nothing like buying a new cell phone or a laptop. You have to do more than compare the tech specs, prices, and warranty options. Health care is ultimately about extending life and delaying death and asking anyone — particularly sicker Americans — to make consumer decisions without knowing the complexities of medicine is not only fool-hearted but outright cruel.
It also doesn’t make much economic sense, as most of our health spending is concentrated among the sickest Americans — those who suffer from multiple chronic conditions and cannot choose to forgo care or shop around for treatments. While half of the population spends little or nothing on health care, 5 percent of the sickest Americans account for almost half of total costs. Just 1 percent of the population was responsible for a whopping 22 percent of health care costs in 2009 or about $90,000 per person, a recent study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded. That top 1 percent of spenders “tended to be white, non-Hispanic women in poor health; the elderly; and users of publicly funded health care.”
As Yale professors Theodore Marmor and Jerry Mashaw pointed out in the Philadelphia Inquirer last year, “if free medical care led to more reckless overuse, countries like Canada and Germany, where patient costs are either zero or minimal, would suffer disproportionate inflation in expenditures or severe access pressures. They don’t.” Indeed, those nations spend less on health care than Romney’s Swiss model — which has higher out-of-pocket costs and the third highest health spending in the world! The theory doesn’t even hold up in the American health care system, where individuals with higher cost sharing in the employer based system with higher cost sharing don’t spend less than Medicare enrollees with smaller cost sharing.
All this suggests that patients aren’t very good at controlling health care costs and that this task probably lies with the providers and the government’s ability encourage hospitals and doctors to coordinate care and deliver services more efficiently.
Likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney doubled down on his attack against President Obama for allegedly waging a “war on religion” during a town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Monday night, insisting that the Affordable Care Act’s new rule requiring employers to provide preventive health care services like contraception constituted an effort to establish “secularism” as an official religion.
“They decided to say that in this country, that a church, in this case the Catholic Church would be required to violate its principles and its conscience and be required to provide contraceptives, sterilization and morning after pills to the employees of the Church,” Romney said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has endorsed Romney and has campaigned throughout Wisconsin with the former governor, went even further, suggesting that “if that’s what this president is willing to do in a tough election year, imagine what he will do after the election if he ever has to face the voters ever again in fulfilling the rest of Obamacare.” Watch it:
But both men should know better, particularly since they’re in a state that has a far more aggressive contraceptive equity law than Obama’s national model and have yet to witness any grand sweep of secularism across the Badger State.
For instance, under Obama’s rule the Catholic Church — and all houses of worship — are specifically exempt from providing contraception to their employees, while religiously affiliated nonprofits can also opt out of offering birth control if they so choose. The same is not true in Wisconsin, however, where a 2010 law requires all employers — including the Catholic Church — to offer contraceptive benefits. But rather than declare war against “secularism,” religious organizations seem amiable towards the change. Some had been providing the benefit prior to the requirement and other characterize the use of contraception as a matter of personal conscience.
“Our employees know what church teaching is. And we trust them to use their conscience and do the right thing,” said Brent King, spokesman for the Madison Diocese, which began covering prescription contraception.” “Diocese of Madison employees, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, sign a document when they’re hired vowing to abide by the laws of both Wisconsin and the church. He said employees would receive “strong pastoral recommendations against” using the contraception benefit, but that the diocese has no intention of policing it.
Health insurance stocks rally after SCOTUS hearing: “Now that the Supreme Court has given a glimpse of how it will consider the healthcare overhaul, more investors in health insurance stocks are breathing easier about the eventual ruling. Wall Street is less worried about the worst-case scenario for insurers: that the court strikes down the individual mandate requiring people buy insurance, but keeps in place provisions that could force insurers to cover more sick, high-cost Americans. Investors also increasingly believe the whole law may be tossed out, analysts said, which could boost health insurer stocks in the near term. Several analysts pointed to UnitedHealth Group as a stock that should do well regardless of the ruling, while Aetna Inc has been a strong performer this week .” [Reuters]
Democrats wage pressure campaign on SCOTUS: “Democrats have waged a not-so-subtle pressure campaign on the Supreme Court in recent days by warning a ruling against the healthcare reform law would smash precedent and threaten popular social programs. President Obama was the latest to weigh in when he declared Monday that a wide array of legal experts would be astonished if the court struck down part or all of his signature domestic initiative.” [The Hill]
Romney responds to Obama’s SCOTUS prediction: “Isn’t this wonderful to finally have a liberal talking about judicial activism? I think we can come together on this. We’ve been concerned about judicial activism for years and years and years,” Mitt Romney said Monday night in response to Obama’s suggestion that overturning the Affordable Care Act would constitute judicial activism. }What the president’s complaining about, however, is that the Supreme Court might actually apply the Constitution to the bill that he passed! And the whole purpose of the Supreme Court is to make sure that Congress does not pass laws that are in violation of the Constitution.” [GOP12]
California officials hope to protect reform: “As doubts grow about the survival of the federal health care law, state officials are considering ways to keep key elements of the legislation alive in California.” [The Sacramento Bee]
Health statistics help shape local health policies: “Better access to health care data helps local governments improve preventive health policies aimed at reducing overall medical costs, say researchers who released the third annual national County Health Rankings today.” [USA Today]