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From The Department Of Stupid Laws, Arizona Edition

This is perhaps the most inconceivably stupid idea I’ve heard of in a long, long time:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 Monday to endorse a controversial bill that would allow Arizona employers the right to deny health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious objections.

Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.

(…)

Glendale resident Liza Love said the bill would impose on women’s rights to keep their medical records private.

Love spoke to the committee about her struggle with polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis, conditions requiring her to use birth control.

“I wouldn’t mind showing my employer my medical records,” Love said. “But there are 10 women behind me that would be ashamed to do so.”

Seriously folks? This is your solution to the whole religious liberty issue, to turn employers into sex police?

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    There was a great segment from Lewis Black regarding Democrats vs Republicans. Republicans stand up and say “I’ve got a sh!tty idea!” and Democrats say “Well I can make it sh!ttier!”

    Arizonian legislators: “You guys ain’t seen nuthin yet.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  2. But remember, no one in the Republican Party wants to BAN contraception. No no no, that would be crazy talk!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Tucson is one of my favorite cities, but I think I need to revisit Albuquerque as a retirement destination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From TPM out of NC:

    Chairman Ted Davis said he thought it was a sad day when “taxpayers are asked to pay money for contraceptives” for women having sex without planning responsibly.

    “If these young women are being responsible and didn’t have the sex to begin with, we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with,” Davis said.

    Gee Chairman Davis, what about the men they are having sex with? Or are the just “boys being boys?”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  5. DRS says:

    My theory is that if men can stick a portion of their own anatomy into it, then men somehow think they own it. And if “it” is a woman’s body, then men can determine what other things get ingested as well. The upshot will be a lot of male legislators sleeping in the driveway. Hope it’s a mild, dry spring.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  6. sam says:

    Modern Republican Party:

    All your lady parts is belong to us, and is to be use only in approved ways.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  7. sam says:

    I add a rider to the bill:

    Employers can also ask each their male employees for proof of that the V-stuff the employee purchases under the insurance plans will only be used in the furtherance of martial bliss…Unmarried men, don’t even try.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  8. DRS says:

    All right, here’s the deal: jock straps for unmarried males between the ages of 17 and 70 to be officially inspected and padlocked every morning by a local law enforcement officer and unlocked only after proof of medical necessity is provided by an approved pro-life doctor. The padlock can be opened to allow for all, uh, natural functions but a timer is attached and will go off if the padlock is not replaced within 5 minutes. The noise will be excrutiatingly loud and impossible to ignore or silence.

    The idea is you can have your fun if you’re willing to pay for it. It needs work but I like it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. Vast Variety says:

    Welcome to the GOP idea of Limited Government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  10. JKB says:

    Hey, when you want someone else to pay for your medical care, you open yourself up to having to provide these kinds of proof. Even if you go with the forcing others in the pool to subsidize discretionary birth control at some point records will be reviewed to validate expensive choices to control costs.

    Does it seem reasonable that we are now in a situation where in a small business, one employee or employee family member who gets sick needing costly healthcare can put the whole business on the brink of collapse or impose spiraling premium costs on the other employees. Levels out over a large employee population but in business of say 10 or 20 employees it can wipe out jobs.

    Used to be a time when you got tired of having to follow the rules, of having your privacy subject to invasion, you moved out and paid your own way. But being an adult is so passe.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 25

  11. legion says:

    @JKB: Wow, you are just offensively stupid and utterly incapable of logical thought. Let’s see…
    - Only businesses have rights to anything; workers just have to accept whatever they’re offered
    - It’s clearly the fault of people getting sick that health coverage is so expensive
    - People who don’t like their current situations can just magically “pay their own way”; if you’re too poor to quit your current job and get another one, you’re just a lazy bastard

    Used to be a time when companies treated their employees like human beings – paid them benefits, honestly managed pension funds, gave them raises commensurate with their performance & productivity, and encouraged them to share in the company’s success. That was just the previous few decades when the US was growing by leaps and bounds; we don’t need to do that any more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  12. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Sorry, Captain, but you’re not even even the same ballpark as cogent on this one.

    How exactly is this a “sex police” thing? Aren’t we worried about cost controls for healthcare coverages? Isn’t the spiraling cost of healthcare one of the gravest issues facing the entire country? Don’t we want to encourage employers to continue providing health insurance coverage by making sure their budgets don’t get wrecked with the high costs of premiums? Separately, don’t we want church and state to separate? We don’t want a secular government telling religious institutions how to go about their business, do we?

    Even upon a cursory glance this bill is designed (1) to allow religious employers such as churches not to cover items to which they might have religious-based exceptions and (2) to help keep a lid on costs by requiring proof of a medical necessity for what can be a costly item, i.e., contraceptives. How are you missing that?

    Since when is it “stupid” to require employees to prove up a need for something that costs their employers money? There are a myriad of laws on the books and standard labor and employment practices which have those triggers and conditions. Merely by way of example:

    FMLA has a medical necessity requirement. You can’t just say “hey, boss, I’m taking off 12 weeks for my wife’s serious health condition.” Your employer can require you to provide proof of that condition. Kin care laws and regulations have their requirement. You have to back up your claim with a doctor’s note. PDLL and similar pregnancy disability laws have medical necessity requirements. A woman can’t just say “hey, I just got pregnant, I’m talking the next four months off.” She would have to provide medical proof of being disabled by the pregnancy. EAP programs for decades have required physician backup to continue on the program. So on, so forth.

    I respectfully would suggest that you take a step back and think about this bill again. Think about the legitimate state interest in cost controls as a means to promote private healthcare coverages. Think about the legitimate state interest in not having the state dictate to sectarian institutions. In short, think a bit.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 21

  13. DRS says:

    Institutions don’t have liberties – people have liberties. This freedom of conscience scam is only the latest in an effort by an increasingly dumb group of American bishops to dictate people’s private activities – and not coincidentally deflect attention away from child-abuse cover-up issues. And for the record, I’m a Catholic.

    Interesting how the Catholic Church doesn’t pull this kind of crap in other countries. It’s really more of an American thing than a religious one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  14. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: “to help keep a lid on costs by requiring proof of a medical necessity for what can be a costly item, i.e., contraceptives”

    It seems like just yesterday that all of the Tsar’s idiot buddies on the right wing were screaming that it was outrageous for Sandra Fluke to claim contraceptives could possibly cost three thousand dollars over a law school career, and offered up “evidence” that any slut could pay ten or twenty bucks a month at Wal-Mart for the prescription.

    Now they’re so cripplingly expensive that employers need proof that women aren’t using them to control their own reproduction.

    They’ll say anything, as long as it allows them to keep the tramps in their place. Thank you, Tsar. But maybe you should change your name to Mullah Nicholas.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  15. Scott says:

    Let remember that employers are not giving you health insurance. It is part of your compensation. It is something you earn. It seems that employers are beginning to believe that we live in a quasi-feudal society (or they are watching Downton Abbey). What’s next? Company housing and stores that employees are required to live and shop in?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  16. legion says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: There’s a lot of things wrong in that comment, but let me just address one topic…

    Since when is it “stupid” to require employees to prove up a need for something that costs their employers money?

    Since employers have no standing to question a doctor’s judgement. If the health plan says it’s covered, and the doc writes the script, the employer has _nothing_ to say about it.

    help keep a lid on costs by requiring proof of a medical necessity for what can be a costly item

    And again, how does any random employer have the professional capability (let alone the time) to second-guess their own HMO on every patient decision? If the employer wants to craft their health plan coverage so that it explicitly omits this coverage, that’s a whole different argument, but asking an employee about _why_ they want a particular treatment is none of their business. Period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  17. Galanti says:

    I forsee a whole lot of employers in AZ suddenly having a come-to-Jesus moment if this thing passes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  18. sam says:

    @JKB:

    Hey, when you want someone else to pay for your medical care, you open yourself up to having to provide these kinds of proof. Even if you go with the forcing others in the pool to subsidize discretionary birth control at some point records will be reviewed to validate expensive choices to control costs.

    How about my proposed rider to the bill? You know, the one where you’ve got to show proof to the employer that your stiff meds will only be used for what said employer considers a legitimate purpose. You cool with that? And you do know, I trust, that the afore-mentioned stiff meds are far more expensive than the ladies’ birth control. See, Price of V-Stuff Has Risen 108% Since Launch; 100 Pills Now Cost $1,400. Ladies’s birth control is about $30 a month. Now, I’m sure you’ll point out that you can get that stuff on the web. God knows where it’s made or what it really is, but “it’s” available via that route. That is, if you’re willing to take the risk of your johnson coming off in your hand as you grope around for it in the dark.

    I can just hear the howls of outrage as men are forced to purchase their delimpifiers out of their own pockets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  19. Herb says:

    Ya know, I’m all for religious liberty, but I don’t think “religious liberty” means the religious get to bring their faith into any context they choose. Indeed, religious freedom means there must be certain contexts in which religious institutions have no say. Our country’s healthcare system should be one of those things. If practicing modern medicine offends the conscience of religious practitioners, I would suggest a career change rather than a legislative loophole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  20. walt moffett says:

    Why do I think Big Pharma will step thru the FDA hoops to reformulate/rebrand the pill to a specific dysmenorrhea/acne drug costing 5 times as much and covered by health insurance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Leah A says:

    When did relegious freedom of conscience apply not just to your conduct of your own life, and in addition, give you the right to control the conduct, religious or otherwise, of someone else’s life, because said person happens to be in the risk pool of your insurance plan, or because said person tries to fill a prescription for birth control pills at a pharmacy where you work? If you notice your neighbor picking up birth control pills at your local pharmacy do you have the right to take them away from her, or him if her husband happens to be picking them up? Of course not. You’d be arrested for assault. And try and explain that you were only exercising your religious freedom under the first amendment, and that includes the freedom to live free from anyone else using birth control pills anywhere near you. Good Luck with that one.

    In terms of health insurance, you are not paying for someone else’s sex, or even for their birth control. It would make as much sense if a man complained that he shouldn’t have to pay for cancer screenings that only concern female organs. Catholics and evagelicals need to stop pretending they don’t understand how medical risk pools work. As to Tsar Nick’s comment about paid maternity leave, the proof required does not include the employer being able to examine the medical records of the pregnant woman; certification from a doctor is sufficient.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  22. anjin-san says:

    Guys, lay off of JKB. Like all conservative freeholders, he has a million or two in liquid reserves set aside in case of a catastrophic illness or accident, and he would never, ever, burden the public with a nickel of medical costs for himself or his family.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  23. WR says:

    @JKB “Used to be a time when you got tired of having to follow the rules, of having your privacy subject to invasion, you moved out and paid your own way.”

    This may come as a surprise to one of our resident business geniuses, but when you get health insurance as partial compensation for working, that IS” paying your own way”. JKB joins the Galt Parade of sociopaths who believe that paying their employees for their time and labor is nothing more than a gift granted out of their own generosity, and that if an employee asks or demands a nickel more than said employer chooses to donate, then he’s a parasite. . The contempt for anyone other than owners is breathtaking.

    Next up: JKB defends multi-millionaire Mario Batali’s practice of stealing tips from his waiters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Herb:

    Ya know, I’m all for religious liberty,

    Yeah, but their religion does not trump my freedom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  25. Herb says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Which was kinda my point…

    Codifying one religion’s preference into law does not mean “religious freedom.” Anyone who’s ever argued against Sharia law could tell you that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  26. legion says:

    @Herb: Exactly. They really don’t grasp the idea that the rights they want to claim for their own religion would also apply to _any_ religion, including them durn Mooslims…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  27. James H says:

    Outside of self-insured employers, how is contraceptive spending even the employer’s business?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  28. J-Dub says:

    @WR: That’s why when I went looking for a new employer I told them to keep their benefits, just give me the cash (as a contractor). Most people aren’t in a position to do that, however, or would even want to if they could. I went out and shopped for my own health insurance, set up my own 401k, pay all my own taxes, etc. It’s nice to know where every penny of my money is going. It gives you a nice perspective on things and lets you know exactly what your total compensation/worth is (and how much the govt is taking, again, most people wouldn’t want to know)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. Jay L. Gischer says:

    One thing that many of you are forgetting is that as far as insurance companies are concerned, birth control is free. They’d much rather pay for it than pay for unwanted pregnancies, which are really, really expensive.

    So, the whole “It’s an expense I don’t want to pay for” business is meaningless. Health insurance without birth control would be no cheaper, and probably more expensive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  30. David M says:

    I can’t even see any rationalization for this, it’s a pretty good example of just how far off the rails some in the GOP have gone, as nothing says freedom like requiring women to report their on sexual activity to their boss in order to receive the compensation they have earned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  31. grumpy realist says:

    Well, a few more silly laws like this and we’re really going to see a push for a National Health Service.

    I keep reading how all the Republican candidates are tub-thumping about how the first thing they’ll do after elected is repeal Obamacare.

    So we’ll go back to prior conditions, health insurance companies scrouring your record after you get cancer to find any reason to dump you (you took asthma medicine once!), lifetime limits on benefits paid out (too bad if you’re in the middle of chemotherapy, you’re simply SOL), and all the rest….

    And all the Ayn Rand types will think it completely dandy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  32. Buzz Buzz says:

    Thankfully, you leftist drones have no idea how badly your rhetoric plays outside your echo chamber. Whatever you do, please do not stop talking.

    Keep Fluking that chicken!

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 18

  33. DRS says:

    Good to see some women Senators are taking a close look at men’s health issues as well:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. DRS says:

    Well not for the first time I can’t get the url thingy to work properly. But in Ohio, a state senator put forward Bill 307 that affects mens’ health issues. I’m afraid you’ll have to Google it, but it’s well worth a look.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  35. David M says:

    @JKB:

    Does it seem reasonable that we are now in a situation where in a small business, one employee or employee family member who gets sick needing costly healthcare can put the whole business on the brink of collapse or impose spiraling premium costs on the other employees. Levels out over a large employee population but in business of say 10 or 20 employees it can wipe out jobs.

    What’s your preferred solution to this problem?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. WR says:

    @J-Dub: I hope that happy feeling of indepedence you get from doing it all yourself is worth the huge premium you’re paying for health insurance, since individual policies tend to be far more expensive than group ones.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. swbarnes2 says:

    @Leah A:

    It would make as much sense if a man complained that he shouldn’t have to pay for cancer screenings that only concern female organs.

    But Republicans do complain about this.

    “Kyl: First of all, I don’t need maternity care. And so requiring that to be in my insurance plan is something that I don’t need and will make my policy more expensive.”

    You’ve been listening to what Republicans and conservatives say, right? A woman says “My friend suffered a cyst the size of a tennis ball”, and what do Republicans hear ? “I’m a slut”, and what do they demand? Sex tapes. Because that’s what women are for.

    I mean, just look at the articles from this site. How many articles about a fat old white guy being rude, and how many articles saying “a woman lost her ovary because some other person’s sexual hangups made her necessary medicine too expensive? That should not happen!” Can anyone name a single Republican or conservative figure whose said anything like that?

    All these “This makes no sense, Republicans/conservatives can’t be this stupid/cruel” posts have their place, but there’s plenty of data in already, and after the 20th incident where a conservative says something demeaning about the needs of women or tries to pass a law that will hurt women, it’s just dishonest to act surprised.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  38. Rob in CT says:

    @WR:

    I had the same thought. Though I’ve never purchased health insurance myself, it has long been my understanding that the individual market is far more expensive.

    Also, I find that it’s not hard to figure out how much the government taxes me, even though I don’t do my own taxes. Amazing!

    Many good points have been made so far in this thread. The obvious ridiculousness of the law, the quasi-feudal viewpoint of those who back it, the fact that health insurance is part of an employee’s compensation, not some sort of gift, and the absurdity of someone arguing that birth control is expensive without recognizing that pregnancy – and maternity leave! – is more expensive. There’s not much for me to add.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  39. pcbedamned says:

    All I have to say is, Thank God I am Canadian!!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  40. Wendy says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    You talk about keeping a lid on healthcare costs. How in the world would you be keeping the cost down by cutting out contraception and women’s reproductive rights? Don’t you understand that by not having access to contraception the number of unwanted preganancies will go up? Don’t you realize that by opening this Pandora’s Box it opens the door for companies to stop paying for women’s exams altogether? Don’t you realize that by doing that, the number of health problems will rise because there will be no way to screen for cancer, endometriosis or other problems? And that, in turn will push up the cost of healthcare. No, you don’t realize these things because you have a penis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  41. legion says:

    @JKB: Here’s another one…

    Does it seem reasonable that we are now in a situation where in a small business family, one employee or employee family member who gets sick needing costly healthcare can put the whole business family on the brink of collapse or impose spiraling premium costs on the other employees death.

    If you want to defend your position, I’d ask you why your original statement is worse (for whatever value of “worse” you choose) than my corrections above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  42. anjin-san says:

    @ Wendy

    I think Tsar’s underlying message is that he can’t get laid and he is pretty angry about it. I suspect the same is true of a lot of the people who are spreading the GOP’s anti-woman (or perhaps anti-woman’s sexuality is more accurate) message.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  43. anjin-san says:

    And while Republicans tell us we are darn lucky to have any health care at all via our employment, the beat goes on:

    Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon stands to collect pension benefits and deferred compensation valued at $143.5 million after his retirement

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304459804577281560545538288.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. David M says:

    @legion: I doubt that JKB would see anything wrong with your corrections. He thinks people should only be able to buy their own “insurance” that does not cover ongoing medical conditions, possibly the single most unworkable health care reform idea I’ve ever heard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  45. Danno says:

    As an employer, I provide medical coverage to my few employees as part of their wages. I’m not paying for it–they are. So please, all you posters who live in Never-Neverland and somehow believe that birth control is being provided on the public’s dime educate yourself. You obviously do not run a business or know much about the subject of “employer-provided” health care. The policy may be one adopted by the employer but I can tell you, it’s paid out of the entire wage package I pay to employees. They earn it. It’s none of my business what medications are provided as part of that coverage or why. What I don’t understand is why the business community in Arizona doesn’t stand up and tell Ms. Lesko et al that they have no legitimate or business-related interest in knowing whether or not an employee uses birth control medications.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  46. Rachael C. says:

    Freedom of religion:
    You have the right to practice your religion,
    I have the right to practice NOT your religion.
    My religion says birth control is just fine,
    If your religion says its not, don’t use it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0