Floor Updates

Boxer, Menendez, Feinstein, Mikulski

Highway Bill (S. 1813)

Feb 29 2012

04:12 PM

Senator Boxer: (3:27 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to Blunt amendment #1520 (conscience rights under PPACA).
    • SUMMARY "Senator Blunt says it has nothing to do with providing health care to women, it's nothing to do with that. It's just about freedom of religion, he says. Well, as many people say, when someone comes up to you and says, "You know, it's not about the money." It's about the money and when someone says, "It's not about access to women's health." "It's about religious freedom." It's about access to women's health. Why do I say that? Because that's what this debate is s all about and we see it all over the country with right-wing Republicans trying to take away women's health care. why are they trying to do this, you'd have to ask them, but we are here to say no. and the thing about the blunt amendment, it would not only say that any insurer or any employer for any reason could stop women from getting access to contraception, it could also stop all of our families from getting access to essential health care services and preventive health care services. Why do I say that? Let's take a look at the Blunt amendment. Enough of this chatter. Let's take a look at it. Here's what it says. A health care plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the essential health care benefits package described in our law or preventive health care services described in our law if they exercise what they call a moral objection. So say someone has a moral objection to someone who has smoked, and the person wants to give up smoking and they want to get a smoking cessation program as part of their insurance. Who may have diabetes and the employer or the insurer says, you know what, that was your problem, you ate too much sugar as a kid, too bad. That's what the Blunt amendment does, and that is a fact."

Senator Menendez: (3:28 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to Blunt amendment #1520 (conscience rights under PPACA).
    • SUMMARY "The amendment isn't about birth control and it isn't about religious freedom. The amendment is about fundamentally undermining our system of patient protections, especially for women, and leads us backward to a time when insurance companies and employers could play life-or-death games with insurance coverage. Supporters of this amendment will stop at nothing to undermine the progress made thanks to health care reform. Progress that says insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of a preexisting condition, can no longer impose arbitrary caps on the coverage you can receive or cancel a policy because of a diagnosis they deem too expensive to cover. In my view, it is shameful that they are using women's health and access to vital preventive services as a scapegoat for larger anti-health agenda. Any attempt to say otherwise is simply wrong. so let me close by saying, by allowing any employer to deny any service for any reason, we are doing a disservice to the people we represent. We would be turning the constitution on its head to favor a morality based medical decision over good science and the relationship between a patient and their doctor. This is an incredibly overreaching amendment with radical consequences."

Senator Feinstein: (3:47 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to Blunt amendment #1520 (conscience rights under PPACA).
    • SUMMARY "I believe strongly that all women should have access to comprehensive reproductive care, should be able to decide for themselves how to use that care regardless of where they work or what insurance they have. The other side of the aisle has tried to take away access not only to contraception but also primary and preventive screenings for low-income women that are provided by the title 10 family planning program and by planned parenthood. these programs provide services to almost eight million Americans nationwide. They are not minor. They are major and for many individuals, it is their only source of care and now here we are, defending not just women's rights but the right of all Americans to access essential and preventive health care benefits. so I strongly oppose this latest attack in the form of the blunt amendment."

Senator Mikulski: (3:57 PM)
  • Spoke in opposition to Blunt amendment #1520 (conscience rights under PPACA).
    • SUMMARY "I want to talk about this blunt amendment because we've heard nothing but mythology, smoke screens and politics as masquerading as morality all day long. so let me tell you what the blunt amendment is not. It is not about religious organizations providing health care and government saying what the benefits should be. It is not about affiliated religious organizations and government saying what the service is to be. This amendment is about nonreligious insurance companies and nonreligious employers. It is about secular insurance companies and it's about secular employers. The Blunt amendment allows that any health insurer or employer can deny coverage for any health service that they choose based on something called religious beliefs and moral convictions. Now, there's a body of knowledge that defines religious beliefs, but what is a moral conviction. That's not doctrine. That's your personal opinion. A moral conviction, no matter how heartfelt, no matter how sincere, no matter funded upon ethical principles, is still your personal opinion. So we're going to allow the personal opinions of insurance companies and the personal opinions of employers to determine what health care you get. What happened to doctors? What happened to the definition of essential health care? So this is not about religious freedom. This is not about religious liberty, because it's not even about religious institutions. So let's get real clear on this blunt amendment. This amendment is politics masquerading as morality and make no mistake, the politics is rooted in wanting to derail and dismember the affordable care act and our preventive health care amendment."