Mother Jones reports that Sen. Marco Rubio’s legislative response to a federal decision requiring health insurers to cover contraception as a preventive service “could cut off birth control coverage for millions of women who receive it through their health plans.”
Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Senate Bill 2043, last month. The bill would would roll back the federal government’s mandate through the Affordable Care Act that requires health plans, beginning Aug. 1, to cover birth control without a co-payment.
One of the most vocal opponents of the decision since it was first announced, the Catholic Church, has said it will continue to fight the mandate. Bishops have even threatened legal action.
According to Mother Jones, Rubio’s bill would curb access to birth control for millions of women who have health insurance. Jones reports:
If passed, the bill would allow any institution or corporation to cut off birth control coverage simply by citing religious grounds… It has 26 cosponsors in the Senate; a similar proposal sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) has 148 cosponsors in the House. On Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed to repeal Obama’s rule, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed to Rubio’s bill as a potential model for doing so.
In English, this means that no entity has to cover birth control in a health plan if it can point to a religious reason for not doing so. And the entity itself is not required to have any religious affiliation. It could just be a plain old corporation. That means that if the middle-aged white guy who runs your company is religiously opposed to birth control, he can have it stripped out of your insurance plan—even if his Viagra is still covered. You could wake up the next morning and find you’re paying full price for drugs that you once got for free or at much-reduced prices.
“This could be huge,” says Judy Waxman, the vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center. “It’s clearly more than a million women who’d be affected if it were just hospitals and universities [that were affected], but under the Rubio bill it could be any employer. It could be millions.”
Religious Americans, overall, support the federal decision. Polling released yesterday by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that even a majority of Catholics think employers should be required to provide health care plans that cover birth control at no cost. The survey also found that “a majority (55 percent) of Americans agree that ‘employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.’ Four-in-ten (40 percent) disagree with this requirement.”
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