Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “affordable care act”

What Do You Want Your Elected Representatives To Be Working On?

By EOM Contributor

We have so many important issues facing this country right now…what do you believe your politicians should be concentrating on?

What comes to my mind first is access to health care, including birth control.  Access to affordable birth control reduces the number of abortions performed and we can all agree that is a good thing.  The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has many important parts.  First of all, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition!  The ACA prevents insurers from charging women more for insurance than men.  In some states, women were actually paying up to 70% more for insurance coverage than men.  The ACA prevents insurers from denying coverage for a pre-existing condition (diabetes, high blood pressure…).  The ACA also prevents insurers from dropping your coverage if you are diagnosed with a condition such as diabetes or cancer.  These are all good things.  There may be some kinks to work out, but the ACA is a valiant attempt to provide millions of Americans with access to health care.

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

What has Congress done since President Obama was re-elected?  They have voted 37 TIMES TO REPEAL OBAMACARE!  37 times at a cost of $50 million dollars!  Money well-spent, wouldn’t you agree?  Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result.  Yes, our elected representatives are officially insane!

Other issues that need our attention are job creation, tax parity,  immigration reform, equal pay for equal work,  the on-going violence against women in our society (and our military where our female soldiers need not fear being raped by the enemy, but do need to fear being raped by their fellow soldiers and commanding officers), and discrimination in housing and the workplace (women can be fired and evicted for being victims of domestic violence, and gays can be fired for being gay),  and investment in our infrastructure (repairs of bridges and roads which would make travel safer and create jobs), just to name a few.

But what have they actually done?  Well, I’ve mentioned the 37 failed votes to repeal the ACA.  In addition to that, state by state women are losing their rights to determine what will happen with their own bodies (male politicians believing they know more about our health than women and physicians do).   The House just approved a bill that would eliminate overtime pay.  Republicans want to raise the student loan interest rate to 8.5%, more than Wall Street Banks pay.  Now what would be the effect of these things?  Students graduating from college will be saddled with even greater debt.  I don’t see how that helps us.  Women facing an unplanned pregnancy will be forced to have children they can’t afford to care for.  Employees working more than 40 hours a week will get compensatory time, but at a rate of one hour to one hour, instead of pay at a rate of time and one half.  Most people work overtime for the pay, not for more time off.  I’m not seeing how that will help low-income families or anyone, for that matter.

Contact your elected representatives.  Tell them to stop passing bills that only harm us and do something that actually helps us!  And stop focusing on the reproductive lives of women!  

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The War Goes On…and on….and on…

English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio

English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Gaetana Drake

The most recent attack on American women comes from a nation-wide chain of craft stores.  Hobby Lobby has over 500 stores in 41 states and employs over 13,000 people.  The chain is owned by the Green family, who has now filed a lawsuit concerning insurance coverage for birth control.

Twenty-six states already required insurance to cover birth control prior to the Affordable Care Act being passed.  There have been no lawsuits filed in those states requiring such coverage.  The majority of the states that have this requirement, have an exemption for “religious” employers.  Maybe I’m mistaken, but I believe that by “religious” employer, they are referring to a business whose basis is religion.  A religious bookstore, for instance.  Most of these states have had these requirements in place for many years, without a problem.  It’s just since the far-right extremists started this war on women, that other employers are trying to deny basic health care coverage for women.

Hobby Lobby doesn’t have a problem with all birth control methods.  They are objecting to the ones they believe cause “abortions”.  That includes the pill and the IUD.  These methods don’t stop an egg from being fertilized, they simply prevent the fertilized egg from implanting itself in the lining of the uterus.  They also happen to be the most commonly used and most effective forms of birth control.

The Affordable Care Act has exemptions for “religious” employers, those being ones whose primary purpose is the promotion of their religious beliefs.  I just don’t see Hobby Lobby falling under that category, do you?

I’ve been in the Hobby Lobby store in Modesto.  It’s a great store.  It certainly doesn’t give the impression of being a “religious” store.  I had planned to purchase some Christmas decorations there.  I’ll be doing that shopping at Michaels now.  I will not spend my hard earned dollars at a place that denies basic health care coverage to the vast majority of its employees.

I wonder what the next step will be?  Will there be a religious test to work at Hobby Lobby?  What other parts of their religion will this family try to force onto its employees?

If you work for a business owned by a Mormon family, will they deny health care coverage for the illnesses caused by tobacco and alcohol use?  The Mormon faith doesn’t allow the use of alcohol and tobacco.

Many people argue that the problem is letting the government mandate what an employer can or can’t do.  The government already mandates that an employer can’t sexually harass an employee, or discriminate based on the many protected categories (race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity….).  In many religions practiced right here in the U.S., females are considered subservient to males.  Would we allow that religious belief to spill over into the workplace?  The government “mandates” many things that benefit us all.  Overtime pay and safe work environments, to name just two.

I have nothing against any religion.  But I believe religion should be practiced in your church and your home.  Not the workplace, particularly when it is to the detriment of your employees.

Women make up 51% of U.S. citizens.  We also make up 53% of registered voters.  I think it’s a safe bet to say they make up over 65% of Hobby Lobby employees.  I wonder how those employees feel right now.

I may be a bit misguided here, but I would think that any employer would look at this from an economic point of view.  I used to work for an employer who did not provide coverage for birth control.  I actually kept track of how many unplanned pregnancies occurred in our workforce each year.  We would cover the pregnancy, the hospitalization, the well-baby check-ups and continue coverage for the child up to the age of 19.  The employer had a “self-funded” insurance plan, meaning that we simply paid a company to administer the plan, but up to a certain dollar amount, the employer paid the medical bills incurred by employees.  We could have saved tens of thousands of dollars every single year I worked there if we had just covered birth control.  We could have saved additional payroll expenses by not having to have replacement workers for the women who were on leave to have babies.

It is so much less expensive to cover birth control than it is to cover unplanned pregnancies.  It’s simple economics.  You save money and you have happy employees because they are able to control their reproductive lives.

Guess when my former employer finally decided to cover birth control?  You got it…when Viagra came on the market!  And why was that?  Because Viagra was something men wanted!  Well, pay attention – women want birth control!

And on a side note – Rick Berg, a candidate for the Senate from North Dakota….voted for a bill that would sentence women who have abortions (and the doctors who provide them) to life in prison.  Life in prison without the possibility of parole!  With no exception for rape, incest or the life or health of the woman!  Do you still believe there is no war on women?

August 1, 2012 – A Day That Will Live In Infamy?

By Gaetana Drake

Representative Mike Kelly (R-Fl), stated “I know in your mind you can think of two times America was attacked.  The first was December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day.  The second was 9/11, the day we were attacked by terrorists.  I want you to remember August 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom – that is a ‘day that will live in infamy’ along with the other dates”.  Representative Kelly believes America has been attacked because of the following:

Several aspects of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act went into effect on August 1, 2012.  They include:

Pap smears, mammograms, STD screenings, well-woman check-ups, HPV testing, HIV screening, gestational diabetes screening, breast-feeding supplies and assistance, domestic violence screenings and counseling, and the now infamous birth control coverage, being provided to women with insurance with no co-pay and no deductible.  This does not mean the services are free – the women are still paying for their insurance coverage.  The only change is that there will be no co-pay or deductible for these preventive services.  Private insurances are now required to include birth control coverage if they didn’t already.

On July 31, 2012, the eve of these great changes (which will benefit millions of American women) taking effect, the Republicans voted for the 34th time to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Believe me, there is a war on women, as they have shown for the 34th time.

Representative Kelly believes that providing American women access to affordable birth control is an attack on America.  There is already an exemption in the Affordable Care Act for employers whose primary purpose is the promotion of their religious beliefs, such as churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and so on.  Apparently requiring other non-religious employers to cover birth control is an attack on their religious freedom.  No one will EVER force a woman to use birth control if she doesn’t want to.  No one will EVER force a woman to have an abortion if she doesn’t want to.  But it is wrong to allow non-religious organizations to suddenly claim they have a moral or religious objection to this very basic, very important part of a woman’s health care.  At this point, their religious freedom is impacting the personal freedom of American women to have access to health care.

Opponents to the Affordable Care Act have said that insurance premiums will go up.  One year ago, another part of the ACA took effect, which says that if your insurance company spends less than 80 – 85% of your premiums on your health care, you must be refunded the difference!  Now, a year after this provision took effect, refund checks are being mailed to businesses and individuals.  Checks that will total $1.1 billion dollars!  That’s $1.1 billion that will go back into our economy as people getting refunds use the money to buy a car, to help pay for their child’s education, to help make their mortgage payment, or even just to buy groceries.  This is money that goes back to the people and businesses who paid for the insurance, instead of going to a $50 million dollar bonus for the CEO of an insurance company.

Now, back to the comment about “a day that will live in infamy”.  Does Representative Kelly understand how insulting comparing birth control coverage to Pearl Harbor or 9/11 is?  Does he realize he just insulted every service man and woman, past, present and future, who have died and those who continue to risk their lives for us?  My father served in the Navy during WWII, one of my uncles stormed the beach at Normandy, and my great-great-grandfather fought at the Battle of Gettysburg.  Mr. Kelly has just insulted each of them.  Shame on you, Mr. Kelly.  You are no American.

A last thought about birth control – my grandson made an observation yesterday when we were discussing this.  He wondered, “why do men even get to vote on this?”   A good point…why are men getting to control the reproductive lives of all American women?

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