Free Is (not) A Very Good Price: Oregon Democrats Propose Co-Pay-Free Health Access Bill

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The 79th Oregon Legislature got underway on Wednesday and already Democrats want to give away more free stuff to some Oregonians, even though the state is facing an almost $2 billion deficit.

Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, Majority Leader in the Oregon House, posted on item on Facebook on Tuesday (Jan. 30) highlighting a bill before the Oregon Legislature. The bill would require coverage of specified health care services, drugs, devices, products and procedures related to reproductive health.

The bill, H.B. 2232, was introduced by Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, and Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, D-Gresham. It now sits in the  House Committee On Health Care. It would require insurers in Oregon to cover contraceptive drugs and devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration with no co-payment, co-insurance or deductible.

The same requirement would apply to a range of reproductive health services, including prenatal care, well-woman visits, screening for sexually transmitted infections, voluntary sterilization and abortion.

A complete list of items and services covered by the bill is provided below.

A story in the New York Times said 30 million women across the country gained co-pay-free access to preventive services like contraception under the Affordable Care Act. “By codifying the protections of the Affordable Care Act, the bill would protect Oregonians’ access to birth control and other preventive health care in the event of a repeal,” the Times reported.

The bill says health care providers will be reimbursed for providing all the required products and services without any deduction for coinsurance, copayments or any other cost-sharing amounts.

Of course, nothing is really free. Mandated free stuff is an illusion foisted on the public by pandering politicians. If the state requires insurance companies to provide products and services for free, and the state promises to reimburse them, the state will have to come up with the money to do that. At this point, nobody knows how much that would be.

But, hey, why worry. H.B. 2232 would give Democrats a chance to cater to a key constituency and the state is only facing a budget deficit of almost $2 billion.

 

Items and services covered by H.B. 2232

A health benefit plan offered in this state must provide coverage for all of the following services, drugs, devices, products and procedures:
(a) Well-woman care, including screenings, assessments and counseling.
(b) Pregnancy-related services, including pregnancy tests, preconception care, abortion and prenatal care.
(c) Counseling for sexually transmitted infections, including but not limited to human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. (d) Screening for:
(A) Chlamydia;
(B) Gonorrhea;

(C) Hepatitis B;
(D) Hepatitis C;
(E) Human immunodeficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome; (F) Human papillomavirus;

(G) Syphilis;

(H) Anemia;
(I) Urinary tract infection;
(J) Rh incompatibility;
(K) Gestational diabetes;
(L) Osteoporosis; and
(M) Cervical cancer.
(e) Screening and appropriate counseling or interventions for:
(A) Tobacco use; and
(B) Domestic and interpersonal violence.
(f) Folic acid supplements.
(g) Breastfeeding comprehensive support, counseling and supplies.
(h)(A) Screening to determine whether genetic counseling related to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations is indicated;
(B) Genetic counseling; and
(C) If indicated, BRCA testing.
(i) Breast cancer mammography.
(j) Breast cancer chemoprevention counseling.
(k) Any contraceptive drug, device or product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, subject to all of the following:
(A) If there is a therapeutic equivalent of a contraceptive drug, device or product approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, a health benefit plan may pro- vide coverage for either the requested contraceptive drug, device or product or for one or more therapeutic equivalents of the requested drug, device or product.

(B) If a contraceptive drug, device or product covered by the health benefit plan is deemed medically inadvisable by the enrollee’s provider, the health benefit plan must cover an alternative contraceptive drug, device or product prescribed by the provider.

(C) A health benefit plan must provide coverage without a prescription for all contraceptive drugs available for over-the-counter sale that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

(D) A health benefit plan may not infringe upon an enrollee’s choice of contraception and may not require prior authorization, step therapy or other utilization control techniques for covered contraceptive drugs, devices or other products approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

(l) Voluntary sterilization.
(m) Patient education and counseling on contraception.
(n) Services related to the administration and monitoring of drugs, devices, products and services required under this section, including but not limited to:

(A) Management of side effects;
(B) Counseling for continued adherence to a prescribed regimen

(C) Device insertion and removal;

(D) Provision of alternative contraceptive drugs, devices or products deemed medically appropriate in the judgment of the enrollee’s provider; and

(E) Diagnosis and treatment services provided pursuant to or as a follow-up to a service required under this section.

(o) Any additional preventive services for women that must be covered without cost sharing under the 42 U.S.C. 300gg-13, as identified after the effective date of this 2017 Act by the United States Preventive Services Task Force or the Health Resources and Services Administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Obama and the media: a breakdown on both sides

President Obama takes the cake in complaining about the failure of the media to hold politicians accountable.

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After all, his administration has done all it can to stonewall and deceive the media.

On Monday, he made extensive remarks at a Washington, D.C. event for the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting about the responsibilities of journalists. His comments, given his record of trying to thwart the media, were remarkable.

“Real people depend on you to uncover the truth,” he declared. “We should be held accountable…What we’re seeing right now does corrode our democracy and our society. When our elected officials and political campaigns become entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis, when it doesn’t matter what is true and what’s not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make decisions on behalf of future generations.”

“The electorate… would be better served if billions of dollars in free media came with serious accountability, especially when the politicians issue unworkable plans or make promises that they can’t keep,” Obama said. “And there are reporters here who know they can’t keep them… When people put their faith in someone who can’t possibly deliver on his or her promises, that only breeds more cynicism. ”

Though he may well have intended his remarks to be a dig at media coverage of Donald Trump, Obama was a very strange messenger given his misstatements and resistance to media oversight.

After all, it was Obama who made the infamous comment about his Affordable Care Act: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.  The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.”

And it’s under the Obama administration that the government has set a dismal record of failing to provide information in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, many from journalists. People who have asked for records under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, a record, according to an Associated Press investigation.

In some FOIA cases, usually after news organizations filed expensive federal lawsuits, the Obama administration found tens of thousands of pages after it previously said it couldn’t find any, the AP said. The website Gawker, for example, sued the State Department in 2015 when it said it couldn’t find any emails an aide to Hillary Clinton and former deputy assistant secretary of state, had sent to reporters. It was only after the lawsuit was filed that the State Department found 90,000 documents about correspondence between the aide and reporters.

Since Obama became president, his administration has pursued an aggressive war against whistleblowers and leakers to the media, with more prosecutions under the 1917 Espionage Act than under all previous presidents combined.

And to top it all off, Obama proudly proclaimed in his Toner Prize remarks, “…something I’m really proud of is the fact that, if you go back and see what I said in 2007 and you see what I did, they match up,” a comment that, for some unexplainable reason, was met with applause by the fawning media in attendance.

Were they not aware of all the broken promises documented on the Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact.

Maybe not. Maybe the mainstream media have been too busy serving as cheerleaders or protectors of the administration.

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Even the Washington Post story about his remarks at the Toner event , written by a reporter who covers the White House, was little more than a 510 word press release relaying Obama’s speech verbatim, devoid of any context.

Maybe they were busy writing impactful stories about the Kardashians, or a man dressed as a shark in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl half-time performance, or a 1000 word story about a campaign worker manhandling a Breitbart reporter at a Donald Trump event.

 

 

 

 

 

Republicans and abortion: a fool’s errand

Let me see if I have this right?

House Republicans exultantly voted on Thursday, Jan. 22, for a bill (H.R. 7) that would forbid the use of taxpayer funding to pay for abortion.

The House Of Representatives votes on H.R. 7

The House Of Representatives votes on H.R. 7

So Republicans, who routinely rant about taxpayer dollars supporting poor freeloaders with too many kids who are burdening the welfare system, want to make sure that people who can’t afford to get an abortion have more babies.

The Hyde Amendment, passed annually as part of an appropriations bill, already prevents using federal funds to pay for abortion, except in cases of incest, rape and life endangerment of the mother, but H.R. 7 would make that permanent law.

The House bill would restrict the use of federal funds to cover abortions, including through the Medicaid federal-state insurance program for low-income Americans, government-owned health-care facilities and the tax credits available to some people to subsidize the cost of health plans purchased under the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, denying to pregnant low-income women any government assistance for abortions pretty much guarantees that more unwanted babies will be born and that the mother and child will be even more dependent on government aid. In many cases, it also means that the child will be taken care of, or not taken care of, by an unwed mother, too often a teenager, that both will struggle to realize a decent life and that society at large will bear the burden of their failure to thrive.

It’s bad enough that many states, with conservatives cheering them on, have eroded Roe v. Wade by adopting measures that severely limit access to abortion for all women, including restrictions that end up constraining the number of clinics in a state that can perform abortions. That means low-income women wanting an abortion are left out in the cold because they can’t afford to travel to a faraway clinic.

The pregnant daughter of a member of Congress probably faces no such financial barrier if she wants an abortion.

After all, a report from OpenSecrets.org showed the median net worth of a member of Congress was $1,029,505 in 2013, compared with an average American household’s median net worth of  $56,355. Keeping up the trend, half of this year’s freshman class were already millionaires upon their arrival.

Meanwhile, Congress isn’t the only abortion battlefield. Outside the Beltway, Republican gains in numerous states in the November elections strengthened the anti-abortion zealots in statehouses and governor’s offices.

And so the struggle continues.