There’s a method to this madness.
MoJo’s Nick Baumann puts the various GOP birth control freakout stories in perspective as he catches “moderate” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida dropping this bombshell of a bill: the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
What does it do? Why, it ends birth control insurance coverage for women, of course.
Rubio has sold his proposal—introduced Jan. 31 as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” or S. 2043—as a way to counter President Barack Obama’s controversial rule requiring even religiously affiliated schools and universities to offer copay-free birth control to their employees. But health care experts say that its implications could be far broader.
If passed, the bill would allow any institution or corporation to cut off birth control coverage simply by citing religious grounds. (You can read the bill here or in the DocumentCloud embed below.) It has 26 cosponsors in the Senate; a similar proposal sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) has 148 cosponsors in the House. On Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed to repeal Obama’s rule, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed to Rubio’s bill as a potential model for doing so.
In English, this means that no entity has to cover birth control in a health plan if it can point to a religious reason for not doing so. And the entity itself is not required to have any religious affiliation. It could just be a plain old corporation. That means that if the middle-aged white guy who runs your company is religiously opposed to birth control, he can have it stripped out of your insurance plan—even if his Viagra is still covered. You could wake up the next morning and find you’re paying full price for drugs that you once got for free or at much-reduced prices.
Endgame. As I said earlier this morning, guess what the price of President Obama’s payroll tax cut extension will be?
Within about a week, we’ve gone from a measure that Republicans supported in 2004 on birth control to now basically the end of birth control being covered by employee health plans. And I expect this will only be the first of as many poison pill/hostage crises as the Republicans can jam into the Affordable Care Act as they can.
They were never going to repeal “Obamacare”, they were going to make it so awful that the American people would demand the old broken system back. Getting rid of employee birth control coverage is just the start.