Job Losses v. Job Gains

by Rich Dunn, NVRDC 2nd Vice Chair

The big news last Thursday was that almost 300,000 jobs were added in the month of June. But a closer look reveals that in reality 500,000 good paying full time jobs were lost and 800,000 low wage part time jobs were created. There was actually a decrease in net employment, which is consistent with all the terrible GDP numbers. The US remains firmly in a job recession, which begets less consumer spending, which begets lower corporate earnings and outlooks, which begets protracted economic recession. The stock market only sees what it wants to see and catapults ever higher, but it’s only a matter of time before the market’s irrational exuberance runs its course and we’ll have a correction. This is exactly what you could expect given the economic illiteracy of the tea party Republicans in control of the national purse strings. The economy needs restructuring, instead we get disasterous sequester spending cuts, proving yet again that elections have consequences.

ADVOCACY: Reject Extreme Legislation Against Women

Yesterday, President Obama made an announcement that took the responsibility from certain religiously-affiliated employers and gave it to insurance companies for covering contraception with no co-pays or deductibles. This accommodation will protect women’s access to birth control and without extra cost, regardless of where they work. We will closely monitor the implementation of this new rule and work to make sure that all women have access to this essential health benefit.

However, opponents of birth control in Congress are still focused on taking away access to contraception introducing extreme legislation that threatens health across the board. The pieces of legislation range from allowing any employer, regardless of whether it is a religious entity, to deny coverage of contraception to giving employers the right to refuse coverage of any health care service they find religiously or morally objectionable.

They are playing politics with women’s health — and it would hurt everyone. Tell your Senators to reject all extreme legislation that would take away women’s access to birth control without a co-pay, and other needed health care.

What would happen if some of these bills became law?

  • Any employer could offer a plan that does not cover maternity care for unmarried women in its plan, claiming that such coverage violates its belief that sex and procreation are permissible only within the marital relationship. (Amendment No. 1520 sponsored by Senator Blunt, R-MO, also known as the “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)
  • Any corporation whose CEO opposes contraception based on his “moral convictions” could deny all coverage of contraception or any other service to the company’s employees. Even more disturbing, a CEO’s view of “morality” could potentially include concern for the cost of a particular benefit. (S. 2092, also known as “The Manchin-Rubio Bill” and the “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)
  • Any employer who objects to coverage of vaccines for children could deny this coverage to all employees. (The “Blunt Amendment”/H.R. 1179)

Help us stop the politics being played with women’s health. Tell your Senators to reject the politics to undermine women’s health and support critical preventive care for women, and for all Americans.

Providing women access to birth control should not be a political issue. Contraception has proven health benefits. The ability to determine the timing of a pregnancy can prevent a range of pregnancy complications that can endanger a woman’s health, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and placental problems, among others. Moreover, women who wait for some time after delivery before conceiving their next child lower the risk of adverse perinatal outcomes, including low birth weight, preterm birth, and small-for-size gestational age. Contraception means healthier mothers and families.

Ninety-eight percent of sexually active women in the U.S., regardless of their religious beliefs, use contraception at some point in their lives. And since many women must skip such preventive health care due to cost, it’s vital to make the care more affordable. It’s therefore critical that women get access to birth control without a co-pay or deductible, regardless of where they work.

We know that the fight will continue and it’s only by raising our voices together that we can we protect women’s health.

Judy Waxman
Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights
National Women’s Law Center 

If there’s a “Compromise” at all …

I’ve been listening to all the hooplaw about HHS Secretary Sibelius’ decision relative to contraception coverage rules under Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act —PPACA (the health care reform act) and find the divide disturbing. Male pundits appear to be arguing for religious rights, drowning out the voices of female pundits who are attempting to argue for women’s rights.

Both sides need to sit down, shut up and think the situation through, looking for a solution that allows a successful outcome for both sides. But, thus far, instead of looking for a means to resolve the rights of both, each is arguing for one group to have to sacrifice their rights at the expense of the other … that somehow women have to take a back seat to religion … or vice versa.

What if neither side had to sacrifice their rights?  They don’t … you know.  It’s all in how one looks at the problem. You see, the problem is the means through which one assumes the health insurance must be delivered to the employee. Both sides are looking at the situation as though the religiously-affiliated organization MUST be the deliverer of the health care insurance policy.

If they delay introduction of this requirement until PPACA is fully implemented, and if the Churches then stop providing health insurance (adjusting employee salaries accordingly to be able to compete for employees in the employment market), their employees could purchase through the exchanges, a health insurance policy appropriate for their needs.

Such a solution would allow both sides of the equation to remain equal in terms of rights retained. Churches and their sponsored organizations would not have to fund health insurance programs that include birth control coverage. Women and families who work for those religiously affiliated schools and/or hospitals, who do not espouse those religious precepts, would not be denied coverage and thus have to incur the full commercial expense for birth control.

It’s a simple and elegant solution … but in today’s reality, I’m not sure either side will be willing to put aside their rhetoric and take action that will move us toward an equitable solution.  I fear instead this will be yet one more volley in the GOP’s war on womens’ rights and liberties.