For anyone who’s been paying attention for the past 2 years, the fact that Republicans seem hell bent on sending women back to the 1950′s seems pretty apparent. Unless, of course, you happen to be one of those types of conservatives that buys whatever the Republican talking heads are selling simply because they’re Republicans. These are the ones I like to call misinformed conservatives, but are more popularly known as idiots.
You know the type. They have little to no knowledge of the subject matter, but insist on spouting their opinions to anyone who will listen. Often loudly. Which has always made me wonder if they think they become more believable the louder they get. Most times I just want to pat them on the head, and tell them to calm down; that the sky really isn’t falling. But other times, I run into something so idiotic that I go right past sympathy into something like tough love. I label it thusly because sometimes you just have to set politeness aside and point out their idiocy much like confronting an out of control teen who’s being locked out of the house.
This is an older issue and the law has taken affect in Az, I’m afraid, but I fully expect to see it again at the Federal level so I feel it remains relevant. I am speaking about HB2625; a bill passed by the Arizona legislature in April (2012) and signed by the Governor at the beginning of May (2012). The gist of the bill is that “religiously affiliated” employers can opt out of covering birth control pills in the health insurance policies of their employees. The idea is, of course, redundant because these types of protections already existed for “religiously affiliated” employers.
In it’s original form, this legislative gem made no such distinction, it simply said ‘employer’. Which would have allowed any employer the right to deny contraceptive coverage in the policies it provided to employees. As you can imagine, there was quite a lot of public outcry and the language was amended.
Also in it’s original form, there was no protection against terminating an employee for refusing to provide the information for which the bill made concessions. You see, if a woman was prescribed birth control pills for reasons other than pregnancy prevention, she could provide that information to her employer, and the employer could then make an allowance for that prescription to be covered. If the woman refused to provide that information, she could, in theory, be terminated for not complying with company policy. This is one of the perks of living in a right to work state. Again, public outcry prompted a language amendment.
However, the language of the bill is still suspect. The law, as passed, states that an employer can submit an affidavit to the insurance company to keep on file stating the religious objection and to what prescriptions. If a woman is prescribed birth control for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy, she would pay for the prescription out of pocket, then submit a claim to the insurance company with proof that the prescription is not being used to prevent pregnancy. The bill does not, however, say anything at all about being reimbursed by the insurance company and further states that the insurance company can charge the woman an ‘administrative fee’ for handling the claim’s paperwork. So on top of this ‘administrative fee’, it’s quite possible that this woman will also end up paying for the medical expense out of pocket as the reimbursement of the medication is solely at the discretion of the insurance company.
Arizona women were repeatedly told by Rep. Debbie Lesko, the bill’s sponsor, that this bill was needed to protect “religiously affiliated” employers from having to pay for a service or services that were contrary to their religious beliefs. And idiots like this and this simply bought what she was selling. Yes, I know they are the same article; I point to both of them to illustrate the complete inability of the misinformed conservative to think critically. It’s clear that neither Robert Messenger, Jr. (of Great Satan) or Shane Wikfors (of guest poster on Sonoran Alliance) took the time to read the bill in any of its incarnations. If they had, they would’ve read what I have listed above.
But even more telling in regard to how misinformed they are, is the logic of their arguments. I say arguments because I group Ms. Lesko with conservatives who have no critical thinking ability, and I’ll start with her justification for the bill. In one form or another Ms. Lesko stated, “The government shouldn’t be telling mom-and- pop employers and religious organizations to do something that’s against the moral or religious beliefs.” In this context, ‘do something’ is paying for health insurance that covers birth control. The flaw in her argument is that, these days, there are few to no companies that pay 100% of their employees health care policies. In 61% of cases surveyed, employees pay up to 25% of the total premium. So, really what Ms. Lesko is saying is that companies should be given priority over employees even when both are invested.
As for Messenger, his argument is even more ridiculous. He states, “I thought most women wanted the government to stay out of their nether regions.” Which is true, but passing laws like this put the government squarely in women’s ‘nether regions’. Or, rather, creates government sponsored intrusions into women’s nethers by their employers. And if we assume Mr. Messenger is a conservative, his statements are even more absurd. Since a law already existed that protects religiously affiliated employers from having to pay for contraceptives, in advocating for HB2625 he is advocating for larger government. I thought it was conservatives that wanted smaller government.
As with so many bills introduced over the last 2 years, HB2625 is a solution looking for a problem. That the conservatives who argued for it didn’t/don’t see the glaring flaws in their arguments demonstrates how misinformed they are. In the case of Messrs. Messenger and Wikfors, anyway. What’s truly sad, is that the bill’s language is posted online for all to read and, clearly, neither of them did. They made a conscious effort to be misinformed. Or idiots. Either way.