Senate Rejects Contraception Amendment
Sen. Roy Blunt's controversial amendment has been shot down with a 51-48 vote.
By Emily Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for OurSexual HealthNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
THURSDAY, March 1, 2012 (MedPage Today) —The Senate has voted 51-48 against an amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow insurers to deny coverage of health services — such as birth control — if an employer objected on religious or moral grounds.
Three Democrats voted in favor of Blunt's amendment: Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. One Republican — Olympia Snowe of Maine, who just announced her retirement — voted against it.
The amendment, which was tacked on to an unrelated highway bill, said that health insurance plans and employers can refuse to 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."
Opponents charge that Blunt's proposal is so far-reaching that an employer could refuse to cover anything they objected to, such as prenatal care for unmarried pregnant women or even mental health services for any employee.
Blunt said his amendment is more narrow than that and would merely allow religiously affiliated institutions to avoid being required to do something they morally oppose.
Contraception issues have dominated Congress for the past month, ever since the Obama administration announced that religiously affiliated institutions would get an extra year to comply with a rule in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring all employers to provide an insurance plan with first-dollar coverage of birth control.
Churches were exempt from that rule, but other religiously-affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and universities, were not.
After a major backlash from religious groups, the administration issued a compromise stipulating that any religiously-affiliated employers would not have to purchase contraceptive coverage for employees, but that their health insurers would be required to reach out to employees separately and offer such coverage free of charge.
Although a number of Catholic groups, including the Catholic Health Association, supported the compromise, Blunt called it "nothing more than an accounting gimmick."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, who voted in favor of Blunt's amendment, agreed.
"Our Constitution demands that individuals and institutions that oppose providing these services on moral grounds be protected," he said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. "The rule by Obama would force religious institutions to violate their moral convictions."
More than 20 national organizations — including the March of Dimes, Planned Parenthood, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and others — spoke out against Blunt's proposal in a letter to lawmakers sent earlier this week.
Under Blunt's amendment, they wrote, "a small employer or health plan could ban maternity care for women due to religious convictions regarding out-of-wedlock pregnancies," or a "health plan or small employer that objects to childhood immunizations, newborn screening for life-threatening genetic disorders, other components of well-child visits, or prenatal care would be fully within the law to deny coverage for any and all of these vital services."
In a separate letter sent to senators by the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, the group said the amendment could allow employers to refuse insurance coverage for mammograms or tobacco cessation programs. "Consider the reality that under the amendment a tobacco manufacturer could refuse coverage of tobacco cessation benefits for its employees," the group wrote.
A Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Tracking Poll released Thursday found that most Americans support insurance coverage of birth control with no copay as mandated by the ACA. The poll found that 63 percent of Americans back complete coverage of contraceptives, and support is strongest among Democrats and younger people.
The poll was based on a telephone and cellphone survey of 1,519 adults and was conducted from February 13 to 19.
Video: Senate Democrats Defeat Blunt Amendment, Protect Women's Health
How to Plan a Picnic
5 Dating Lessons I Learned From My Sisters – PartII
How to Stop Giving Attitude to Your Mom
Super handig: tien manieren om een vitamine D-boost te krijgen zonder te zonnen
Downton Abbey Girls Go Glam In LA As They Reveal Series 4 Secrets
The Best-Dressed Premier League Managers
Why You Should Reconsider the Pussy-Bow Blouse forFall
How to Stop Erosion on a River Bank
This is the Best Bedtime for Teens, According to Science
How to Practice Mindfulness of Mental States
How to Choose a Magellan Navigation System
And dont forget about the Amazon Cloud Cam
How to Get a Girl to Fall for You