It’s official. Texas is getting the boot from the Women’s Health Program. The GOP machine is pumping out the messages that Obama did this to us, so I want to give you the absolute facts you will need to refute this claim:
- When Texas joined the Women’s Health Program, which officially happened in December, 2006, the rules were the same as they are now. Planned Parenthood was an approved provider. In other words, Texas knew that funds would be going to Planned Parenthood, and our state government was OK with that.
- In December, 2006, and in the lead-up during our application process, George W. Bush (R) was the President of the United States and Rick Perry (R) was the Governor of Texas.
- So, the Women’s Health Program (a.k.a. the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver program) was overseen by Republicans at the federal and state level. Republicans approved our state’s application. Under the rules that allowed Planned Parenthood to be a provider.
- The Texas legislature, a majority of whom were Republicans in 2011, decided to change the state law in order to exclude Planned Parenthood as a provider. They did this knowing that the waiver would expire in December, 2011, and that Texas would need to reapply in order to continue receiving the highly advantageous and money-saving 9 to 1 federal matching funds.
- The federal government, following the rules established during a Republican administration, warned Texas that dropping Planned Parenthood would terminate the state’s right to participate in the program.
- The Republican Texas legislature dropped Planned Parenthood anyway.
So, when you hear someone trying to blame Obama for ending the program, and saying that it is the President’s fault that women won’t receive these services, you can tell that person that he or she is dead wrong. The blame for this lies solely at the feet of Texas Republicans.
OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, on to contraceptive coverage from private insurance programs. Amanda Marcotte has been hammering this point, which is a very excellent one that we should all be ready to make:
Insurance isn’t a gift your employers give you; it’s a part of your compensation package. If your employer has the right to force you not to use your compensation package in this way [i.e. for contraceptive coverage] on general (and suddenly invented) principles, then why not in other ways? Once the principle that your compensation is your employer’s “money” and that they get to control it is established, then why can’t they step in and stop you from spending your salary on contraception? After all, if health insurance money is still theirs after they write the check, then your salary is, too. (Source.)
Get that? You exchange your work for compensation, which includes insurance. If your employer can tell you, because of his or her religious beliefs, how to use your health insurance, then you have opened the door to allowing your employer, because of his or her religious beliefs, to tell you how to spend the money you earn.
How would you like your employer telling you whether or not to get a vaccination, or whether or not to vaccinate your children? Or mandating that you use a cholesterol-lowering drug, or that you NOT use one but instead manage your cholesterol through diet and exercise alone. Or telling you that if you buy a new car, which you’d be using your salary to do, that you can only buy an American car if you want to receive free parking?
Another key element Amanda drives home: equal pay for equal work. Giving employers the right to dictate that an employee cannot use health insurance for contraceptive care means that employers have the right to reduce the value of women’s compensation because they are women. We actually have laws about that. And by that, I mean we have laws saying that it is illegal to discriminate in employment practices against women for being women. The illegality of that discrimination is a bedrock reason that the law mandates that contraceptives be covered when a health plan covers prescriptions.
If the person you are talking with has allowed you to get this far into the conversation, then you may be dealing with someone who actually responds well to facts and logic. How refreshing! If the person objects to employers being required to cover health insurance at all, suggest that the person may wish to become an advocate for a single payer health care system.
And good luck keeping that conversation on the rails, but hey, you never know. Change does happen.