Tahlequah Daily Press


July 7, 2014

Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

TAHLEQUAH — When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

The court ruled Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to include emergency contraceptives and intrauterine devices in its coverage. Spin from opponents suggests Hobby Lobby didn’t want its insurance to cover contraceptives of any kind, but actually, the birth company’s owners just objected to methods they claim will induce abortions.

There are several issues at work, but they all end up at the same place.

First, Hobby Lobby used to provide this coverage, possibly because its owners were unaware of it, until “Obamacare” came along.

Second, pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the objectionable drugs continue to be part of Hobby Lobby’s portfolio, to the tune of $73 million in mutual funds. Teva Pharmaceutical, with its Plan B morning-after pill and a cooper IUD, and Pfizer, which makes abortion-inducing drugs like Cytotec and Prostin E2, are on the sheet, along with health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions.

Third, there’s scientific disagreement on what constitutes “abortion,” and many say the methods cited don’t fit the bill. But the religious beliefs of many folks preclude them from accepting that assertion; they hold to what their doctrines and their pastors tell them, rather than what the “secular” scientific community says. This is their right, and since there are no experts on the TDP staff, we won’t argue the point.

Fourth, Hobby Lobby covers Viagra in its insurance plan. This fact, far more than others that offer whiffs of hypocrisy, is what has many Americans bemused. On the surface, it smacks of hypocrisy, but when one considers a purely religious angle, it becomes a “life” issue: Birth control prevents procreation, while Viagra and other   treatments, such as penile pumps, promote it. And certain churches – especially the Roman Catholic – are all about the openness to new life. This argument falls apart when vasectomies, also covered by Hobby Lobby’s insurance, are thrown into the mix.

And fifth, the ruling could have far-reaching ramifications.  The Supreme Court ordered lower courts to revisit cases wherein companies sued to deny coverage of any type of contraceptive birth control coverage on religious grounds. Since Roman Catholic dogma opposes all contraceptive birth control, companies owned by Catholics will likely seize the opportunity.

Though the court may have rightly hinged its decision on religious freedom, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, for companies, this isn’t so much about religious freedom as it is a pushback against the Affordable Care Act. It’s a mess, but as we and others  have said, something needs to be done to fix the country’s broken health care system. So far, the dolts in Congress have shown no aptitude for fixing that, or anything else.

The Obama administration likely made employer-covered insurance the core of the ACA because it was too afraid to challenge status quo. That system fell into place during World War II, when government price controls were imposed. Companies couldn’t give raises, so they instead offered health benefits. The IRS said these couldn’t be counted as income so they were tax-free, and many employers jumped on the bandwagon.

There are several problems with this system. If you’re self-employed or work for a small business, you may pay for insurance with post-tax dollars, whereas if you work for a large company, you can get it with pre-tax dollars. Plus, as last week’s ruling makes clear, employees are held hostage by their companies’ beliefs (and perhaps whims). Worst of all, before ACA, people who lost their jobs lost their insurance, and often had a hard time getting another policy. That alone kept many folks strapped to low-paying, unsuitable jobs.

With the current Congress, there’s no way things are going to improve. The public will have to keep making demands until ACA is fixed or something better comes along. And we need to exercise our choice to vote out the bozos.

Those who dislike the Hobby Lobby decision have a choice, too. They can refuse to do business there, or work there. Money doesn’t just talk; it screams.

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  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

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    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
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  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

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    July 23, 2014

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    July 11, 2014

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    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

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  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014


Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
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