Health policy expert: Focus should be on government designing health care coverage in America
Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Sandra Fluke have shifted the focus of the debate on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to its mandated coverage of birth control.
“I don’t know why they are singling out birth control,” said Mike Tanner, an expert on Obamacare with the Cato Institute. “What we should be discussing is not contraceptives, but we should be talking about the government designing insurance plans for us.”
Tanner said the national debate should be on the mandated coverages contained in Obamacare, such as mandatory coverage of mental health, including psychiatric care, drug and alcohol rehab as well as dental and vision care for children.
For example, under Obamacare, a single man would have to pay for dental and vision care for children on the mandated government plan. A woman with a hysterectomy would still have to pay for birth control.
“Why should the government be mandating what is in the insurance plan?” Tanner said. “If you are a Mormon, why should you have to have drug and alcohol rehabilitation?”
Private insurance plans do have coverages that many people pay for but don’t use, Tanner said. The difference is that under a private plan, the insured are allowed more freedom in what they do and don’t want to pay for.
Tanner also explained the scenario in which taxpayers would pay for some individual’s birth control.
Tanner said Catholic hospitals would drop insurance for its employees rather than offer a plan with birth control. He said the Catholic hospitals would pay a fine for not offering insurance and many of the employees would end up going to the government exchanges.
Many of the employees would have limited earnings and would have some of their health care coverage subsidized by taxpayers.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, released a statement that her organization was in favor of birth control being mandated for health care.
“As a trusted health care provider to one in five women in America, Planned Parenthood believes that women, regardless of where they work, should have access to health insurance that covers preventive health care, including birth control, with no co-pays.”
Desiree Cooper, director of community and media relations for Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, didn’t return an email seeking comment.