The NY Times shows no curiousity at all in "reporting" on the claims of a group opposed to the Blunt amendment (which writes a conscience exemption into ObamaCare). However, with a bit of careful editing they bring the group within hailing distance of a non-lie.
From the Times:
More than 20 national organizations weighed in on Tuesday against Mr. Blunt’s proposal. The groups include the March of Dimes, Easter Seals, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Under Mr. Blunt’s proposal, they said in a letter to lawmakers, “a small employer or health plan could ban maternity care for women due to religious convictions regarding out-of-wedlock pregnancies.” Likewise, they said, a health plan or a small employer that objects to childhood immunizations or screening of newborns for genetic disorders could deny coverage for those services.
Presumably advocates of the Blunt amendment had a response, but I can't find it here. More of the Times coverage:
The proposal, offered by Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, as an amendment to a highway bill, says that health insurance plans and employers may refuse to provide or pay for coverage of “specific items or services” if the coverage would be “contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer or other entity offering the plan.”
Mr. Reid denounced the proposal, saying it “would allow any employer anywhere in our country to deny coverage for virtually any health service for virtually any reason.”
Senator Blunt’s amendment simply restores conscience protections that existed before President Obama’s flawed health care law – the same protections that have existed for more than 220 years since the First Amendment was ratified.
...Senator Blunt’s amendment would not impact existing state laws, and it does not address any other law other than President Obama’s flawed health care plan.
The Blunt Amendment amends ObamaCare to include conscience protection; it does not repeal past Federal legislation or overturn state laws. That point is illustrated here (my emphasis):
(b) RESPECT FOR RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE.—
(1) IN GENERAL.—Section 1302(b) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111–148; 42 U.S.C. 18022(b)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:
(6) RESPECTING RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE WITH REGARD TO SPECIFIC ITEMS OR SERVICES.—
‘‘(A) FOR HEALTH PLANS.—A health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the essential health benefits package described in subsection (a) (or preventive health services described in section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act), to fail to be a qualified health plan, or to fail to fulfill any other requirement under this title...
I am not a lawyer, but Sen Blunt claims his act does not repeal prior law, such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and that claim certainly passes my eyeballometric inspection. We are left wondering, did ObamaCare resolve some national crisis circa 2009 in which pregnant women were being denied maternity care by religiously oriented groups? Memory fails.
Let's flash back to the various groups worried about maternity care. Rehashing the Times:
Under Mr. Blunt’s proposal, they said in a letter to lawmakers, “a small employer or health plan could ban maternity care for women due to religious convictions regarding out-of-wedlock pregnancies.”
Interesting. Per the National Journal the groups made a more expansive claim which the Times pared back:
“The amendment would give expansive and explicit license to any employer, health plan, provider, or beneficiary to exclude any health service from insurance coverage. For instance, a small employer or health plan could ban maternity care for women because of religious convictions regarding out-of-wedlock pregnancies,” they said in a joint statement.
"Any employer"? The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 specifically includes pregnant women as a protected class, like other ethnic or religious groups, and it applies to any company with fifteen or more employees. This is what it says about health insurance, per the EEOC:
- Health Insurance
Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy-related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. An employer need not provide health insurance for expenses arising from abortion, except where the life of the mother is endangered.
Pregnancy-related expenses should be reimbursed exactly as those incurred for other medical conditions, whether payment is on a fixed basis or a percentage of reasonable-and-customary-charge basis.
The amounts payable by the insurance provider can be limited only to the same extent as amounts payable for other conditions. No additional, increased, or larger deductible can be imposed.
Employers must provide the same level of health benefits for spouses of male employees as they do for spouses of female employees.
So - pregnant woman were not out in the cold prior to the passage of ObamaCare. Since 1978 they have been specifically covered by the PDA as part of the Civil Rights Act, and the Blunt Amendment does not repeal this. Consequently, the broad claim that "any" employer could deny anyone anything is false; the Times edited the claim down to something that, in a small employer setting, might be true or might be contestable under another statute or common law.
I was shocked to learn that Senator Scott Brown is supporting the Blunt Amendment -- a dangerous measure that would allow insurance companies and employers to deny health care coverage to anyone for any reason -- including, but not limited to, blocking access to contraception.
I am shocked to learn that a Senate candidate would be so woefully uninformed. A subscription to Google might help. And lest she worries that her staffers lack mad research and typing skills, even a Google on "preggers dis act" would strike gold.
Well - I suppose it's possible that neither she nor the paper of broken record made any effort to establish the truth.
SEND IN THE COMICS:
Al Franken on the Senate floor, describing the only Blunt he ever turned down:
For example, under this amendment, an employer could object to covering vaccines for children, and thus the plan would not be required to cover them. Or an employer could choose not to allow an insurer to cover maternity care for a single woman, and the woman would have to pay for her prenatal and maternity care out of pocket.
These lefty talking points may be ignorant, but they are nicely coordinated.
WE HEAR FROM A NOT-SO-WISE LATINA:
While the ACA could be transformative in reducing these barriers and improving the health of our communities, the Blunt amendment would diminish that potential by allowing an employer, for example, to deny maternity care to an unmarried woman or HIV screening to a gay or lesbian employee,” González-Rojas added. “Latinas and our families deserve better.”
Don't they also deserve "more honest"?