Getting REALLY Tired of This

Talking Points Memo reports:


  1. Actually, having health insurance provided by employers is one of the stupidest policy decisions we’ve made. It distorts the competition for good workers, burdens businesses unevenly, and fails to provide universal coverage. I’d much prefer a system like France’s, where coverage is part of the social security system. But we have what we have–and since we’ve opted for employer-mandated coverage, that coverage should be uniform.

  2. “Can someone explain to me just when it was that we gave employers the right to direct the moral/spiritual lives of their employees? Just when did workers exchange not just their labor but their right to personal autonomy for a paycheck?

    In what twisted definition of “religious liberty” do we find “the right to trump the personal/religious decisions of those who may work for you?”

    I believe this began with the 2009 elections which turned Congress into what has become a privately owned organization run by Boehner and the pseudo religious right-wingnuts who have brought about so much dissension in this entire country. They are currently suing President Obama, threatening to impeach him and again shut down the country to get what they want…the right to run this country by their interpretation of the Bible. The Bill of Rights, Constitution and Amendments have gone by the wayside and been replaced by misquoted Biblical chapter and verse turned into laws. They do not understand or are ignoring the fact that this country was founded and government was formed to give people religous freedom; not develop one religious denomination to use as the basis for our government. Sheila is right in her repeated comments as to the importance of teaching Civics in our schools; it is the lack of knowledge and understanding of this vital issue that has brought about current conditions and election results. How long will it take to undo what the current Congress has done in the name of religion primarily to work against our twice elected biracial President? While employer offered health care is not the best solution, it is a primary part of the health care solution at hand so we must work within it’s confines. CAN we undo it? WILL we undo it?

  3. Some employers recognize they can attract better employees and retain them longer when they offer insurance and other non-salary benefits.

  4. I’m just waiting for an employer to argue that it can direct what the money it gives a worker can and can’t be used for. Ot that a salary can be conditioned a voting a particular way…

  5. “Can someone explain to me just when it was that we gave employers the right to direct the moral/spiritual lives of their employees? ”

    Who is doing that? Employees can still spend money on birth control (and it was only one category of birth control that the Hobby Lobby owners objected to – abortifacients) . You just can’t make the employer pay for insurance coverage that violates their religious beliefs.

    What if the federal government mandated abortion be included in insurance coverage? Would you believe it okay that Catholic and other business owners who have religious objections should have to pay for abortion coverage?

    Sheila, I have a lot of respect for you, but I don’t agree with your view of the Constitution that some constitutional provisions deserve protection (chiefly free speech which you are strong on) while others, such as the free exercise of religion clause, must always bend to legislation representing “good public policy.”

    But actually the Hobby Lobby case didn’t even involve the constitution It involved a Religious Freedom Restoration law passed by Congress that almost unanimous support which was designed to overturn the Court’s chipping away at the free exercise clause’s protection of religious freedom. Congress can always go in and change that law but they won’t because it had, and still has, broad public support.

  6. When I was a catholic and worked at a catholic university back in the late 80s-early 90s, I had terrible female problems. My doctor recommended that I take the birth control pills in order to stabilize me and I tried to get the insurance to cover it. They wanted a letter from the doctor that it was medically necessary! This was 20+ yrs ago folks. The media is just starting to show this to the general public which is a good thing.
    My body, my business, not my employer and especially not yours Paul.
    Why is that so hard to understand?

  7. It is my understanding that during WWII companies began to offer health insurance coverage as a benefit to attract talent away from other enterprises. There were wage freezes in place so the employers did not have the ability to offer better pay. This tool became pretty widely used over the course of the next say 30 years by the ever larger consolidating firms as a way to again have first call on talent over the smaller independent firms. In 1974 the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) pretty well sealed the corporate plans and the related tax benefits that are only available to them. In this process it seems it was necessary to drive up the cost of healthcare to a level a person could not afford out of pocket as well to make the usefulness complete.

    When these ever larger and more consolidated entities like the Hospital groups were able to dampen the ability of other firms to enter marketplace and compete with them for talent then it only became a matter of time before they would take that new found clout and use it. So to me you figure out when we decided we had to abandon a free market based economy of numerous firms with access to resources like capital, talent and tools for the one we have now and I think you can then put your finger on when the process began. In looking at some prosperity measures of working people, I think you could go all the way back to 1959 and make a case that is when we zigged and those birds are coming to roost.

    I do know as long ago as early 1970’s my mom worked in a family planning unit in the basement of the old St. Vincents Hospital here in Indianapolis. I had to do a research paper that was based on actual first hand observation so I went to the clinic for the day. In that visit I learned as much as I could about family planning as a high schooler. I got a B on the paper and the teacher made an appointment with the clinic to get birth control pills. So somewhere along the lines I guess the more conservative thinkers won out but it wasn’t always so.

    So what is the way forward? We need to find a way to protect each and every persons ability to pursue happiness (catching it is there job as Ben Franklin points out). For me that means we need to accept the fact that “compromise” gave us the Affordable Care Act where unions and federal employees are exempted among the other issues I think are fatal flaws. We need to learn a new “C” word called collaboration which will take the shred of true value here which is the liberation from employer based model and make the thing work right by finding a way forward.

    In this process we need to have the mindset that liberty and freedom needs to be consistently available. So we need to realize that the same “stinking thinking” that allows an employer to dictate healthcare to young women who should have the right to make choices, is the same thinking that tells law abiding citizens they cannot own and carry a firearm and vice versa.

    The way forward is to my way of thinking, accepting our differences leaving each of us to find our way and only punish activity that is clearly one that does injury to another. We have to become immune to the “pretty pig contests.”

    I know that the on side will say there is injury to the unborn and the other will say that history has shown that tragedies occur with firearms. You are both right in your own way. But then using that logic when need to outlaw motor vehicles and disease. Good luck with that. There are (used to be) limits to what can be legislated and should be. Sometimes you have to hope for the best and believe that in some way your fellow man/woman is in a better position to understand the situation they uniquely face and give them tools to solve their own problems.

    Being an employer or government does not give you the right to think your standardized solution will fit most people on an individual basis. The answer is less not more bullying but we have come a long way down what appears to be a dead end road. The only way to change that is to turn around and walk back out. At least until the “transporter” becomes more than a Star Trek concept.


  8. @Paul K Ogden

    Would you place any limits on employers defending their religious beliefs? For example, should Hobby Lobby be able to fire any employee that got an abortion? Or purchased birth control with their take-home pay? Or blood transfusions? Should companies be allowed to withhold taxes that are used by the government to fund wars if it is contrary to their religious beliefs? Where would you draw the line, if anywhere?

  9. @paul: NONE of the contraception methods covered by the Affordable Care Act are abortifacients. Period. The fact that some religious believers choose to use a medical term incorrectly does not make it so. You cannot ‘abort’ a pregnancy that has not commenced. The hypothetical possibility of the presence of a fertilized egg (whose existence cannot be confirmed) does not define pregnancy.
    And this is irrelevant because other institutions which object to ALL forms of birth control are using the Hobby Lobby case to reject coverage of any forms of contraception.

  10. Employers funded health care coverage when unions insisted on it for those in dangerous jobs which injured and sometimes killed the company’s workers. Still others decided that having healthy employees was in the company’s best interest to cut absenteeism and have employees better able to work at peak performance. Ultimately employer health insurance became a way to attract and compete for talented employees.

    If we have to put it strictly in economic terms, countries with foul water and other unhealthy conditions that prompt sickness, disease, and early death do not prosper regardless of how hard their citizens work. Hope springs eternal that we are motivated by good will as well as economics.

  11. It is interesting that those companies who use their religious beliefs to deny certain coverages are quite willing to take money from anyone who comes into their store and spends money. It would seem to me that accepting money from an atheist or anyone not of their religious beliefs would be sinful.

  12. And the same health care coverage which Hobby Lobby and others are allowed to deny specific birth control benefits to female employees covers Viagra and erectile dysfunction supplies. What is their religious stand on that issue? Medicare also covers those items but not hearing tests, hearing aids, dental care or dentures, no eye exams but will provide one pair of glasses annually only IF the person has had lens implant surgery. Just sayin’

  13. Perhaps they will slowly change attitudes, when they wake up one morning and find that the entire nation is like Detroit and ranks somewhere in the middle of all the other 3rd world nations.

    Second post is correct. However, most European Nations (my homeland included) have a higher standard of employee’s in public service than the US does. They pay more and get the cream of the corp etc. Which leads me to the question, are US public service employee’s capable of running a national healthcare system. In the UK, National Health is the largest employer in the public sector and also in the nation.

  14. Think of the simplicity and efficiency of universal health care. One system that covers all of the financing and delivery of health maintenance and care. Medicare for all. Like most of the rest of the world.

    Think of ACA, Medicare and Medicaid as the beginning not the ending.

    Think of politics as an enabler, not an obstacle.

    Now we can consider the real problem……the transition. How to get from here to their.

  15. Pete, that is the 64 thousand dollar question – how do we get there; from the FOR PROFIT to Non-Profit?

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