The subject line of the press release from HHS Secretary Tom Price in response to President Trump’s signing of the Religious Liberty executive order said it all, “Secretary Price Welcomes Opportunity to Reexamine Contraception Mandate”. The executive order frees Price to take aim at covered women’s health services that providers, insurers, and employers may find objectionable under their religious beliefs. Price has an antiquated and paternalistic perspective that men should be in charge of the type of health care services a woman have access to.
Price Excited To Cut Women’s Health Care Services
The Affordable Care Act, and subsequent rulings by the Health and Human Services Department, mandated that all health insurance plans must cover a variety of forms of contraception for women. For some reason, this contraception mandate bothered many employers with a religious bent against preventing unwanted pregnancies. Specifically within President Trump’s executive order on promoting free speech and religious liberty is section 3 that states,
Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.
All Women’s Preventive Services At Risk
Unfortunately, if the executive order stands – is not struck down by a federal court – all preventive care for women could be under attack, not just contraception coverage. If the nut-job employers who claim their “religious freedoms” are being trampled on because they have to cover contraception, it is not much of a stretch to conclude that they would object to covering other preventive services for women such as,
- Breastfeeding comprehensive support and counseling
- Gonorrhea screening
- Syphilis screening
- Breast cancer mammography screenings
- HIV screening and counseling
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test
- Sexually transmitted infections counseling
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s executive order on religious freedom:
Religious liberty is our country’s first freedom. Americans of faith play a vital role in caring for our most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly and the poor.
We welcome today’s executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to reexamine the previous administration’s interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s preventive services mandate, and commend President Trump for taking a strong stand for religious liberty.
We will be taking action in short order to follow the President’s instruction to safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees.
Bring Back Forced Sterilization
Secretary Price will not be happy until he has been able to strip away all coverage for women’s health issues. The man seems to have stepped out of the 18th century when women had no control over their bodies. He certainly would have been in favor of eugenics and the 1927 Supreme Court decision in Buck v. Bell that upheld a state’s right to permit compulsory sterilization of women deemed unfit to bear children.
In addition to taking the ax to the contraception mandate, Price expressed glee over the House of Representative’s vote to repeal the ACA.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., issued the following statement applauding passage of the American Health Care Act by the U.S. House of Representatives:
The status quo is failing the American people. Premiums are skyrocketing; choices are narrowing or vanishing; and patients do not have access to the care they need. Today, the House of Representatives has begun to deliver on President Trump’s promise to repeal a broken law and replace it with solutions that put patients in charge. This is a victory for the American people.
The American Health Care Act is focused on patients. It is the first step toward a patient-centered healthcare system that will provide Americans access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage, empowering individuals and families to choose the coverage that best meets their needs, not what Washington forces them to buy, and equipping states to address the diverse needs of their most vulnerable populations. As Congress continues its work, the team at HHS will continue to support the reform effort by reviewing and initiating administrative actions to put patients, families and doctors in charge of medical decisions, bring down costs, and increase choices.
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House allows states to file for waivers and allow health plans to exclude some or all of the essential health benefits under the current rulings. Price will almost certainly grant any waiver that strips women’s health services from being offered in health plans. But his rational for allowing states to address “the diverse needs of their most vulnerable populations” is fundamentally flawed. The Republicans have been promoting the idea that people in different states have different health care concerns. Therefore, states should be free to include or exclude certain services.
People Are People, Regardless Of Their State Residence
The health care needs of people are not dependent on what state you live in. A pregnant woman in Alabama requires the same pre-natal and other maternity health care services as a woman in California. The argument that somehow a person’s health care needs change based on what state they live is tantamount to saying that people in Detroit should be fine with drinking lead-tainted water, but people in Texas shouldn’t have to. All people should have access to clean drinking water because they are humans. All people should have access to the same health care services because they are humans regardless of what state they live in.
The other part of the AHCA is that it denies funding to Planned Parenthood. This means that women will have fewer providers to choose from if it passes the Senate and is signed by Trump. It has been Price’s contention that the AHCA will expand access to care. But when the legislation removes hundreds of doctors who have been the primary care physician for thousands of women, how is that improving access to care?
It has become a tired phrase, but Price and his Republican-Christian-Conservative brethren put profits over people. Their ideas on the egalitarian nature of health care are that it should only be extended to healthy people who follow their holy scriptures. All others are unworthy of receiving affordable health insurance and decent health care. These people are just warped, stuck in their own little bubble world.
Tom Price Is A Dangerous Man
Secretary Price’s positions on health insurance and health care are indefensible. They are cruel. They will devastate the lives of many women and children. I can only hope that voters wake up and take note of how Price and his Republican colleagues are hell bent on denying health care services to their children and neighbors and vote these people out of office. Women in America are not safe as long as Secretary Price is in charge of HHS.