Human Stew

A woman’s body was found in a hotel water tank yesterday after complaints were made about showers running black and low water pressure. Upon hearing this, Elon had a … reaction.

Also on #TWiBRadio, #TeamBlackness touched on Republican governors shifting their stance on healthcare and Bingo beef in New Hampshire.

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And this morning on #amTWiB, the morning crew discussed side-chick rules, L.Joy has her most grandma of grandma moments, and the team were joined by comedian Dean Obeidallah to discuss racial profiling . Check it out:

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Every sperm is sacred

Now that death panels are a thing of the distant past, the real threat to liberty in this country is apparently the pill, something that we’ve had for over half a century and that a majority of us thought was a fairly settled debate. Of course, since the right is adamantly opposed to providing life-saving universal access to healthcare we instead get yet another front in the culture wars.

Now the administration has changed course in the right direction on the contraception mandate:

Today, the White House did the right thing for women, public health and human rights.  Despite deep concerns, including my own, based on what transpired in the past under health reform, the White House has decided on a plan to address the birth control mandate that will enable women to get contraceptive coverage directly through their insurance plans without having to buy a rider or a second plan, and without having to negotiate with or through religious entities or administrations that are hostile to primary reproductive health care, including but not limited to contraception.

Under this plan, every insurance company will be obligated to provide contraceptive coverage. Administration officials stated that a woman’s insurance company “will be required to reach out directly and offer her contraceptive care free of charge.  The religious institutions will not have to pay for it.”

This is the right move. A smart, effective way to get past the objections on the right. And it pushes us one tiny step closer to shedding employer coverage altogether.

Even before the changed policy, public opinion was squarely behind the administration:

A solid 56 percent majority of voters support the decision to require health plans to cover prescription birth control with no additional out-of-pocket fees, while only 37 percent are opposed. It’s particularly noteworthy that pivotal independent voters support this benefit by a 55/36 margin; in fact, a majority of voters in every racial, age, and religious category that we track express support. In particular, a 53 percent majority of Catholic voters, who were oversampled as part of this poll, favor the benefit, including fully 62 percent of Catholics who identify themselves as independents.

It will be interesting to see how Republicans respond to this latest move by the president. The reason it’s an issue at all is simple: just as the economy starts to heat up Republicans panic and pick a fight over something bound to whip up the fervor of the angriest of culture warriors: no death panels this time, no, this time it’s contraception. But actually that’s not quite right either. That’s just a code word for abortion.

Of course, we’re not talking about a mandate to cover abortions, we’re talking about a mandate to cover birth control. Some people on the fringe of this debate equate the two, but a huge majority of Americans disagree. A majority of Catholics disagree, for that matter.

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The Importance of Being Insured

Freddie deBoer writes:

Personally, I think denying people adequate health care coverage because of their economic condition or employment status is a practical and ethical failure equal to Jim Crow or similar regimes of racial inequality. Now you can know me by my extremism. And so the meticulously curated pose of believing in a theoretical regime of universal health care while opposing all real reform seems to me to be dishonest and worse.

There have been no real efforts at reform emanating from the right. The closest thing was the Wyden/Bennett bill to which Bob Bennett hung his name and and for which he subsequently lost his long-held senate seat. That, in any case, was the brainchild of Ron Wyden, a real champion of the healthcare debates. I’m glad several Republicans were willing to sign on to it, even if they did so knowing it would never pass. Certainly no Republicans would now.

Dave Weigel reported recently on a new bill Senators John Barasso and Lindsey Graham have introduced in the Senate, The State Health Care Choice Act, which essentially allows states to opt out of the new healthcare law. It’s important to note that Senator Wyden already had something like this included in the original law (indeed, under Wyden’s amendment states can easily set up their own plans even without individual mandates, which sort of takes the wind out of the sails of all these lawsuits if you ask me…). The difference between his and Barasso/Graham’s legislation is that Wyden allowed opting out if states were able to meet or beat federal criteria. The Republican version is simply an opt-out, no strings attached.

Weigel reports Graham saying, “You didn’t listen to us when we had ideas.” Right. Republicans had control of the government until 2006, and of the White House until 2008. No healthcare reform bill full of Republican ideas was forthcoming – only the hugely expensive senior-citizen bribe known as Medicare Part D. Perhaps Graham means we didn’t listen to all the Republican ideas on how to obstruct healthcare reform.

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