The Widdershins

medical staff picture

No it’s not perfect but despite all the protestations to the contrary and despite having been done away 30 or more times by the Republican House, it’s still around.  My preferences would have been either single payer or Medicare for all, but, as they say, “it is what it is”.  And what it is, is something that appears to be working.

I read this article in the New England Journal of Medicine which looked at the A.C.A.  through a number of different scenarios in how people obtained medical coverage and what they got.

We all saw the numbers after the open season closed and eventually over 8 million people enrolled in the health insurance exchanges (state and Federal) and that number even beat the CBO earlier estimate.  The NE Journal article chose to look at aspects of Obamacare that have been either overlooked or glossed over.

In assessing the record of the ACA to date, we comment on enrollment not only through the individual marketplaces but also through other critical vehicles for extending coverage: the requirement that private insurers cover children of enrollees until the age of 26 years, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, new insurance-market rules that enable people to more easily buy plans directly through insurance companies outside the individual marketplaces, and marketplaces created for small businesses, known as the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). We also report on early survey data about recent trends in rates of insurance since the passage of the ACA.

(Me here)  They have a handy-dandy pie chart which you can see here.  It was too big to put into the post.

As the article states, parts of the A.C.A. actually began in 2010.  One of those parts was the requirement that insurance companies/plans having dependent coverage allow parents under those plans to keep their children on the plans until age 26.  As the article states:

Last year, a Commonwealth Fund survey showed that 7.8 million adults between the ages of 19 and 25 years were enrolled in a parent’s plan — and that most of these enrollees would not have been eligible to do so before the passage of the law. Federal surveys suggest that the number of young adults without health insurance has declined by 1 million to 3 million since the provision took effect. The young-adult provision has been popular across the political spectrum. The Commonwealth Fund survey showed that young adults who identified themselves as Republicans were enrolled through their parents’ policies in greater numbers than were those who identified themselves as Democrats. (Me again:  of course that says something about the Republican parents too, no?)

The next item the article discusses is the fact that with the A.C.A. came new coverage provisions on companies who sold individual plans, whether through an exchange or otherwise.

Insurers selling health plans in these markets can no longer set prices on the basis of health or exclude coverage of preexisting health conditions, and they are limited in what they can charge older adults as compared with younger adults.   In addition, all plans that are sold in these markets must meet comprehensive benefit standards.

And further help individuals making decisions:

to aid consumer decision making, health plans must be sold at four distinct levels of actuarial value (i.e., the share of medical costs covered on average). For example, on average, bronze plans must cover at least 60% of medical costs, silver 70%, gold 80%, and platinum 90%.

The 2nd thing the A.C.A. did was to create the individual exchanges, which sadly, most states chose not to do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Good Tuesday afternoon Widdershins. For some reason my thematic gene is not firing today so my offering for your perusal is best described as a little of this and that.

Do you remember the Johnny Carson skit, “The Great Carnac?” It was where Mr. Carson would don a turban the size Carnacof a wash basket, give the answers to questions, then open an envelope and miraculously share the questions to which he had already shared the answers. I have a couple to start — a feeble attempt at a comedic amuse bouche.

Answers: Smallpox and Sarah Palin

Question: Name two toxins best kept in lockdown isolation.

and

Answers: The Costa Concordia and Rick Perry

Question: Name two things being refloated that are ultimately headed for the scrap yard.

While you are still groaning at my feeble attempt at humor, let me add a little something about the Senate race in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell, in an attempt to appeal to women beyond his fierce turtle magnetism, recently sent a mailer to women voters describing his successes over the years. He was able to provide two, yes, two whole examples.

After 30 years in the Senate, THIRTY YEARS, his two examples of leadership on women’s issues were: Voting to allow women into combat and changing the prosecutorial procedure for sexual assault in the military. So after thirty years, Senator McConnell can proudly say to women, “I’m for your right to die in battle, but if you don’t, I’m also against rape.“ McConnell’s opponent is Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Turning to Speaker John Boehner’s suit against President Obama for his Executive Order lawlessness, there is little mention in most stories that Obama has issued the fewest Executive Orders since FDR.

Another piece of relatively delicious irony is that the issue over which Boehner is suing Obama, the delay of the ACA employer mandate, is an issue the House voted 261 to 164 in favor of delaying. Said a better way, the supposedly spendthrift House of Representatives is spending millions of dollars to sue the President for something they were in favor of in the first place.

While I know few, if any, of you are of the Republican persuasion, but if you were, wouldn’t you be embarrassed if the future of your party’s foreign relations philosophy was being debated by two luminaries like Rick Perry and Rand Paul? One best known for saying, “Oops,“ and the other for a haircut resembling some wayward varmint. The fungible factor is high between the two, not just in their initials, not just being two native Texans, but in their egos writing checks their meager intellects can’t endorse.

One last topic: The crisis of caring for children at our southern border. Notice the way the whole complexion of the problem changes when the emphasis is rightly on the children and not the sterile, now pejorative, word — immigration.

Immigration BusesThe recent demonstrations of angry mobs screaming at buses filled with helpless children and women is a disgusting moment in our history. Where is the compassion? Where is the empathy? These people who have walked, hopped trains, or begged, borrowed, and stolen to get to our border deserve better.

If Glenn Beck can bring food, water, teddy bears, and soccer balls to these children, those who are angry and screaming should take a long hard look at themselves and the Tea Party ideals they claim to espouse.

It is a wondrously confusing thing to me when politicians are so eager to listen to religious leaders talk about contraception, but offer so little quarter to religious leaders who talk about hungry, starving, needy children.

This crisis is certainly one spawned by the unintended consequences of the Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Passed by voice votes with little or no opposition and signed by Dubya, it is a tacit encouragement to tens of thousands of children to risk their lives. There is nothing humanitarian about that. It needs to be fixed, but until it is, we need to be able to answer the questions, “When they were thirsty and when they were hungry,” with a clear conscience and an even clearer determination to fix the broken immigration system.

One last program reminder: Hillary is going to be a guest on The Daily Show tonight. Jon Stewart, in an attempt to assuage his liberal guilt, will undoubtedly offer up some pointed questions. It should be “must see teevee”.

Take this discussion to whatever subject you may wish since this is an open thread.

 

I have to admit, this new pope is growing on me.

ROME (Reuters) – About two percent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, an Italian newspaper on Sunday quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.

(snip)

“This data should hearten me but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave,” he was quoted as saying.

I am not sure where Pope Francis got this figure, as he was quoted to say that he was reassured of its accuracy from reliable statistics,but I applaud him for speaking up and admitting the problem. (Hmmm, Maybe the Catholic Church needs a 12-step program?)

The article in La Repubblica also quoted the pope as saying that there were cardinals amongst the abusers. While the role of cardinals in covering up abuse is still being uncovered, it has not been proven than any committed these horrific acts. Nonetheless, the law of averages would seem to dictate that these men are not immune from the disease. Of course, rationality is not a key characteristic of a Church which is based on transubstantiation and the infallibility of its human leader, and Vatican spokespeople are claiming that hey, His Holiness never said that!

While acknowledging that the conversation had taken place, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement saying that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the pope.

Lombardi said that, in particular, a quote attributed to the pope saying cardinals were among the sex abusers was not accurate and accused the paper of trying to “manipulate naive readers”.

You know what’s manipulative? The way the Church has played on the faith of its members to marginalize and silence the victims of pedophiles in the clergy. And yes, I am quite f*cking sure that there are cardinals who have abused the children in their care. The Catholic Church is full of these cockroaches who scatter at the first hint of sunlight, and the culture for far too long has been not just tolerant of, but enabling towards, these abusers.

In my opinion, the Pope should share the statistics that he’s seen, Tell it like it is, Francis. Only then does the Catholic Church have a prayer of gaining back the credibility it has lost.

This is an open thread.

Summer-1909

Summer-1909

So happy Saturday to you Widdershins.  While I’m feeling somewhat better I still have a “meh” feeling and am still going through runny noses, drainage and the rest.  Knowing that you don’t want to hear that, let’s move on.

Love is a heavy thing

And apparently showing your love by placing locks on a Paris bridge is a very heavy thing.  It’s so heavy that it is breaking off parts of the bridge.

The path of true love for tourists in Paris has often involved a stroll across the Pont des Arts and the attachment of a “love lock” to its railings. The key is then thrown into the river Seine.

But the celebrated bridge had to be evacuated at the weekend after part of the railing collapsed under the weight of love locks attached to it. (note: in the picture below those are hundreds if not thousands of padlocks attached to the bridge rails.)

Love-locks

Police ordered visitors to leave and closed the footbridge after a 2.4-metre section of railing broke loose.

The Parisians themselves are very perturbed about the situation, even launching petitions (wonder if they fare better in Paris than they do here?)

In an open letter to the Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, the petition organisers complained that the locks were “like a plague on our city’s historic bridges and sites”.

“This is most apparent on the Pont des Arts, which has been terribly degraded, both visually and structurally In a few short years, the heart of Paris has been made ugly, robbing Parisians of quality of life and the ability to safely enjoy their own public spaces along the Seine, which has itself been polluted by thousands of discarded keys.

Oh well…Parisians are usually pissy about something or another.  They will soon be leaving (if they’re not already) and heading off for their month or longer vacations.  Perhaps they’ll be in a better mood upon their return.

It really might have worked had the dog not been there

Poor Christopher Mitchell and his partner Keithian Roberts.  They were just tooling down the highway in Volusia County FL when they got pulled over by the police.  They were pulled over because Mr. Mitchell wasn’t wearing his seat belt. Mr. Mitchell explained that, weighing in at 450 lbs, the car’s seatbelt would not go around him.  Now, I can understand his statement, and although Chris may be unaware of it, they do make seatbelt extenders for cars.  But regardless, he didn’t have one this time and the officers felt that both Chris and his partner were unduly nervous so they called in a K9 unit to check for drugs.  And the dog found some but in an odd location.  Seems that ole Chris had hid the weed underneath a roll of his, uh, stomach fat.  They also found cocaine, a handgun, and $7,000 cash in a tube sock.  The police busted Mr. Mitchell for possession of marijuana and for extra measure they cited him for not wearing his seat belt.

 

 

Okay!  Everybody out of the water…NOW!

What can I say here?  At least this guy is consistent with his fetishes.  He seems to have a thing for pool toys.

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

But you see…this wasn’t exactly his first time in the pool…so to speak.

According to police records, Tobergta was arrested for similar crimes in 2011 and 2013.

In 2011, he was accused of having sex with his neighbor’s pool float and was convicted of public indecency.

After Tobergta’s 2011 arrest, a family member said Tobergta has mental issues and needed help. It’s not known if he has undergone treatment.

In 2013, Tobergta was accused of stepping out of his home, naked, and “having sexual relations with a pool float” within the view of children. He pleaded guilty to to public indecency and was sentenced to 11 months in prison. He was released in May 2014.

Tobergta’s court hearing is set for June 18. He is being held on $35,000 bond.

I bet all the neighbors just hate it when spring and warm weather arrives.

 And I saved the best for last

In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg poll, most Americans are ready for Sarah Palin to just sorta…go away.  Please.

Ms. Palin gets the dubious distinction of 52% wishing her to fade away, including almost 2 out of 5 conservatives and Republicans.

For Mr. Cheney the verdict also is harsh, with 42% wanting him to be quiet, and even a quarter of the Cheney base of conservatives and-tea party voters have heard enough.

Sarah, Dick?  Do y’all get the message?  We could mail it to you if needed.  Just sayin’.

Some assorted youtubes

This first one is of a guy who gives swap tours to the tourists in nola.  The video was shot by a visitor on one of those boats and I believe he’s been told to not feed the aligators…by mouth.

This poor little bébé is having some trouble getting the crawling thing down so Buddy the dog tries to help her out some.

This dog does a better job of eating corn on the cob than I do, with all the crowns in my head!

Okay this last one has been around for awhile but I just saw it.  Interesting take on our 24 hour news cycles.  Be advised:  some NSFW words are used, but since we’re all adults here, I trust it’s okay.

 

Okay Widdershins, what’s going on with you this weekend?  Comment below on anything you care to.

 

 

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

- See more at: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-arrested-for-sex-act-with-pool-raft-makes-cour/ngNcB/?__federated=1#sthash.cxWGYxnQ.dpuf

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

- See more at: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-arrested-for-sex-act-with-pool-raft-makes-cour/ngNcB/?__federated=1#sthash.cxWGYxnQ.dpuf

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

- See more at: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-arrested-for-sex-act-with-pool-raft-makes-cour/ngNcB/?__federated=1#sthash.cxWGYxnQ.dpuf

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

- See more at: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-arrested-for-sex-act-with-pool-raft-makes-cour/ngNcB/?__federated=1#sthash.cxWGYxnQ.dpuf

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

- See more at: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-arrested-for-sex-act-with-pool-raft-makes-cour/ngNcB/?__federated=1#sthash.cxWGYxnQ.dpuf

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

- See more at: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-arrested-for-sex-act-with-pool-raft-makes-cour/ngNcB/?__federated=1#sthash.cxWGYxnQ.dpuf

A Hamilton man arrested again last week for allegedly having sex with a pool raft waived his right to a preliminary hearing in municipal court.

Edwin Tobergta, 35, of Harmon Avenue, was charged June 11 with felony public indecency after a passerby observed him having simulated sex with a pink life raft at about 8 a.m. on Ohio 4, according to the Hamilton police report.

- See more at: http://www.whio.com/news/news/crime-law/man-arrested-for-sex-act-with-pool-raft-makes-cour/ngNcB/?__federated=1#sthash.cxWGYxnQ.dpuf

PRESCRIPTION-DRUGS

Happy Hump Day Widdershins, we’re halfway through our week!  I thought today I’d discuss something I came across over at John Aravosis’ website and which I’ve had to deal with as well as some other folks here dealing with the issue  and that is the price of prescription medications.

Most of you know that before the ACA went into effect, I had medical coverage from a plan that was an offshoot of the ACA called PCIP which stood for Pre-exisiting Conditions Insurance Plan.  Now it wasn’t a bad plan until they got closer to the end of it and had to start scaling back on coverages.  However, the prescription medication coverage was definitely a keeper.  In the last year the plan did change on prescriptions, with the individual having a $150 deductible before there was any coverage.  Now that really didn’t take me too long to meet since I take generic lipitor and when it first went generic it was still far from cheap.  Plus, the prescription coverage through PCIP and Express Scripts had a deal whereby when you started a new medication, if you got it in generic form, you only had a $10 co-pay for a 90 day supply for the first year.  Now I have a few meds that aren’t even that expensive when I was under PCIP nor are they expensive under my BCBS-AL plan and I am fortunate in that all of my meds are available in generic form.  And that brings me to the main topic here, brand name medications and their costs here in the U.S. as opposed to other countries.

Apparently John has asthma and uses the Adviar diskus.  Checking my insurance site, there are a couple of strengths that it comes in.  John is apparently well-versed in Advair and it’s cousin Symbicort.  Well John is apparently overjoyed with the insurance companies at least in this one situation:

Hallelujah. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d praise an insurance company. But the proverbial Atlas just shrugged.

Insurance company pharmacy benefit managers, who have apparently had it with drug companies charging American consumers ridiculously high, and ever-increasing, prices for prescription drugs, are starting to say “enough.”

At the top of the list is my asthma drug, Advair.

Some big insurance company pharmacy benefits managers are simply no longer permitting their plans to cover Advair. Or at best, they’ve relegated Advair to the lower “third tier,” which means the patient has to pay so much of the price that they simply won’t buy the drug at all.

As a result, Advair sales plummeted 30% this year in the US.

John goes further to explain the costs in Europe, particularly France since he travels there frequently to see one of his bloggers, Chris-in-Paris.

Advair’s parent company, GlaxoSmithKline, charges Americans five times the price it charges many Europeans for the same drug.

Yes, five times.

advairFor example, in France I bought a one month’s supply of Advair 100/50 last summer for around 38 euros, or around $52 dollars.  The same drug in the states will set you back $254, and that’s at Costco. You’ll pay more elsewhere.

Oh, and it gets even better. In the past few years, Advair’s parent company, GlaxoSmithKline, raised the price 30% in the US over the past few years, while they lowered the price 10% in France over the same time period.  So over the past 5 years, Advair went from being 3x as expensive in the US as it is in  Europe, to 5x as expensive.

And before you think that France is somehow subsidizing the purchase, they’re not. France simply negotiated with GlaxoSmithKline, and the company agreed to charge the French FIVE TIMES LESS THAN IT CHARGES AMERICANS.

Think about that for a moment. You’re paying five times the price for an obscenely expensive prescription drug because of your citizenship.

Now I looked up the Advair at MyPrime which handles my  retail scripts and their second site myprimemail which naturally handles the 90 day mail orders.  I put in the dosage that Aravosis said he used, but got confused about whether he used a 12EA disp pack a month or 60, so I used 60.  The cost would be $30/month retail or $75 Prescripton-costsfor a 90 day supply.  I believe Aravosis mentioned he’s under a grandfathered plan prior to the ACA so that’s probably why he pays that much.  And I assure you that with the premiums I’m paying, it’s not like I’m getting a big break on anything.

Bargaining by the PBMs (Pharmacy Benefits Managers) is beginning to pay off, but maybe not directly to the consumer.

If health plans are now winning bigger discounts or rebates, it will not show up in list prices but will help relieve pressure on insurance premiums.

That appears to be happening to some extent. Analysts at Credit Suisse estimate that the collective discounts and rebates for 15 large drug companies amounted to 31.9 percent of gross United States sales in 2013, up from 30.2 percent in 2012 and 19.7 percent in 2007.

 

Still, why is it that Americans have to pay so much more for medications than our European cousins across the pond?

Our entire health care system is a mess. It’s bought by and owned by huge companies, like the drug companies.  And even under Obamacare, Congress refused to lift the laws that help drug companies maintain their obscene prices.  For example, did you know that it’s illegal for the Medicare program to negotiate prescription drug prices with Big Pharma?

Now, as Aravosis points out, it didn’t have to be this way with drug prices when they were debating the ACA.

US Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota offered an amendment that would have permitted “pharmacies and wholesalers to import U.S.-approved medication from Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, where drug costs are far lower because of price controls.” And who led the opposition to that amendment, but the Democratic Senator from Delaware, Thomas Carper, who has the big pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca headquartered in his state.

And further, the FDA is even complicit in helping to keep up prices of medicines here in the U.S. as seen from their own website:

Is it legal for me to personally import drugs?

In most circumstances, it is illegal for individuals to import drugs into the United States for personal use. This is because drugs from other countries that are available for purchase by individuals often have not been approved by FDA for use and sale in the United States. For example, if a drug is approved by Health Canada (FDA’s counterpart in Canada) but has not been approved by FDA, it is an unapproved drug in the United States and, therefore, illegal to import. FDA cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs that it has not approved. (Me here:  like you can really ensure the safety of drugs here in the U.S.  Right!)

FDA, however, has a policy explaining that it typically does not object to personal imports of drugs that FDA has not approved under certain circumstances, including the following situation:

  • The drug is for use for a serious condition for which effective treatment is not available in the United States;
  • There is no commercialization or promotion of the drug to U.S. residents;
  • The drug is considered not to represent an unreasonable risk;
  • The individual importing the drug verifies in writing that it is for his or her own use, and provides contact information for the doctor providing treatment or shows the product is for the continuation of treatment begun in a foreign country; and
  • Generally, not more than a 3-month supply of the drug is imported.

 

Again as Aravosis wrote:

Excuse me, but I’ve been traveling to France for years and they have THE SAME EXACT DRUGS MADE BY THE SAME EXACT PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES SELLING FOR 1/3 TO 1/5 THE COST THEY CHARGE AMERICANS FOR THE EXACT SAME THING.  Period.  Advair, sold in both countries by same company, is 1/5 the cost in France.  Singulair, 1/4 the price.  Pulmicort, 1/3.

[snip]

They’re drugs made by the same companies, often sold under the same names, and those same companies agree to sell the same drugs for significantly less in Europe because they know they can make up the difference, and then some, by gouging Americans at home (I have been told this by numerous sources on the inside). We are subsidizing low drug prices in Europe in order to pad the profits of American drug companies.  You are paying what amounts to a tax on your prescription drug purchases in order to help Europeans buy cheaper drugs.

Now, as I mentioned with the Advair example, I do get a break on that medication compared to Aravosis.  But that’s also because I signed up for a platinum plan; I’m paying the premiums for that “subsidy”.  And the thing is, the lower you go in the metal levels, the higher your costs rise.  If someone is signed up at the bronze or silver level in a plan, they are paying a goodly amount for drug co-pays (I don’t have those brochures handy anymore).  What it will take is for some of the congress critters to stop accepting the bribes, uh contributions from Big Pharma and do what’s right for the people.  Of course I don’t see that happening anytime soon, and uh, asthmatics: don’t hold your breath.

This is an open thread.

Top of the Tuesday to you Widdershin friends. I hope your 4th was a good one. Since it seems my fingers have retaken residence over the computer home keys, I’m pleased to report my 4th was “digitally” unremarkable.

Last Friday’s post on the effects of the Hobby Lobby case by Caterwaulin’ Sam Alito and the Four Supremes was The Supreme Court as the Supremesfinished and posted about 5:00 p.m. on Thursday. As you will recall, Alito went out of his way to assuage any trepidation about the effects of the ruling and even Justice Kennedy harmonized this refrain, “the majority opinion does not have the breadth and sweep ascribed to it by the respectful and powerful dissent.” We Widdershinville “why-askers” knew better.

Thursday evening, just as the Supremes left for summer vacay, was where the “rubbers” met the road on the whole religious liberty and contraceptive issue. A mere three days after issuing the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, with all its cooing and sweet nothings about it just being the outer most tip of religious liberty, the five conservative justices stuck it in with reckless abandon.

The down and dirty is this: In an unsigned emergency order granted Thursday evening, the court said the religious exemption “work around” it had just praised in the Hobby Lobby decision most likely would also be struck down. Accordingly, the ballyhooed “work around” would also be found an impermissible burden on the freedom of religious employers.

Whilst we slept, Monday’s permissible cure for “burdening” employers suddenly became the disease. In short, having explicitly promised that the Hobby Lobby decision would go no further than closely held corporations, the court went back on its word, then promptly skipped town for the summer.

Uterus CaucusThe sneak attack of Thursday night last was the first skirmish in the great Womb Wars of 2014-15. On the one side you have five Catholic testosterone units with their “berobed” dangling junk versus the Uterus Caucus, the three female Justices. Here’s how it played out.

The five conservative Justices, constituting a majority, issued an emergency temporary injunction to Wheaton College. Wheaton is a small Illinois Christian college that has never had to comply with the contraceptive mandate of the ACA since there has always been an exemption and a “work around” for religious organizations.

To get the exemption they just have to file a short form, known as Form 700, that says, “We have a religious objection to providing contraception.” No one checks. No one is questioned. No one really cares because the cost of the contraceptives is borne through a government “work around” with the insurance companies.

That is, no one cares except Wheaton and several similarly situated plaintiffs. These religious organizations have filed appeals and are awaiting their day before the Supremes next term. Their beef: Someone signing the two page Form 700 triggers some third-party to provide the contraception, which in turn triggers women to have access to IUDs or morning-after pills, which according to their admittedly unscientific 16th Century principles, is akin to abortions, and thus violates their collective religious conscience.

Wheaton College

Wheaton College

Wheaton College and the other plaintiffs won’t abide being branded with the scarlet ACA even though their “religious burden” is merely signing a form. Their argument is the butterfly effect of contraception: Any time Wheaton flaps its religious-conscience wings, some woman somewhere gets an IUD and Wheaton’s religious liberties are violated.

This emergency injunction is in addition to the cases the court kicked back to various lower courts immediately after last Monday’s decision. In one case, the employer had objections to not just IUDs and the morning-after pill, but twenty other different types of contraception guaranteed by the ACA.

Another of these cases started out as a religious objection by the business owner, but morphed into a, “What gives anyone the right to tell me what I have to do? That’s my issue, that’s what I object to, and that’s the beginning and end of the story,” case. That libertarian screed is the stuff the Brothers Koch take Viagra and dream about at night.

Now back to Wheaton, and this is why I felt it necessary to update last Friday’s post: It is truly an extraordinary act for the Supreme Court to issue an emergency temporary injunction. It’s not unheard of, but it is about as rare as a civil pleasantry being uttered by Antonin Scalia.

SotomayorWhat’s even more rare, even unheard of, is a seventeen page dissent to a four-paragraph order granting the injunction. The dissent, penned by Justice Sotomayor and joined by Justices Ginsberg and Kagan, was blistering. It centered on what we discussed last Friday, never before has the court allowed a party to determine, for itself, what constitutes a “substantial religious burden”. It is the equivalent of never questioning a three-year old who is allowed to only eat at McDonald’s and taking great pleasure when he smiles through his swollen scurvy-ridden gums.

In her dissent Sotomayor said, “Wheaton is mistaken — not as a matter of religious faith, in which it is undoubtedly sincere, but as a matter of law: Not every sincerely felt ‘burden’ is a ‘substantial’ one, and it is for courts, not litigants, to identify which are substantial.” She adopted an analogy from the Seventh Circuit:

Say a Quaker is called up for the draft and requests an exemption from service because of his religious beliefs. That’s fine, and RFRA may well dictate he can be exempted from service as a conscientious objector. But what if he then realizes some other person will be drafted to take his place? Can he object to his own exemption because that requires somebody else to take up arms?

If signing a short form is now a substantial religious burden as Wheaton College and others claim, there is little that Opinions Aheadisn’t a substantial burden under the Hobby Lobby decision. If that is the case, Sotomayor etched a nice little epitaph in her dissent, “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word. Not so today.”

Translated into the vernacular: No matter how sincere the sweet-nothings sound before you are right and royally violated, those sweet assurances never turn into calls the next day, but just the same, you remain right and royally screwed.

This is your intrepid contraceptive correspondent signing off with, “Have a nice day and this is an open thread.”

 

Good Monday, Widdershins.  Mad is traveling, so you are stuck with me today.

Hop into the Wayback Machine.  Here is a snippit of a post that Mad wrote years ago, when the Stupak Bill was pending:

This “Whisper” campaign, the brainchild of CinieMadamaB and the combined writings of feminists everywhere outraged by the horrible health “insurance” reform bill that emerged from the House, is very simple. It can be summarized in 140 characters or less:

Lysistrata: She Says No. No to Stupak. No to all but HR 676. No money, no volunteering, no votes, no support. NO!

The idea is to spread this idea of Lysistrata to every woman you know. Whether it’s by tweeting, Facebook, phone calls, email or whatever means you choose, just tell them to stand up for themselves and no longer support either political Party until they start supporting you! And if you should happen to be represented by a liberal pro-choice woman who is none too pleased with the Stupak atrocity and the way the Democrats are just expecting women to “take one for the team,” then please tell her so, in no uncertain terms.

Lysistrata, sisters!

This is a great post, and we took heart from it.  That was Lysistrata in a tweetable whisper, and it served us well at the time. Things have deteriorated, and it’s time to begin tuning our tonsils, practicing deep breathing exercises in order to fully project our lovely, rich voices and bellow forth the word “no” from the bottom of our souls.   Practice with me: No, Nyet. Nein. Nofreakinway, Noooooooooooooo. Fuhgeddaboutit. Now, how liberating is that??

Say it loud, and say it proud, Widdershins.  The time has come to let those who would represent us and those who would judge us know exactly how we feel.  No to discrimination, no to being forced to live by the commandments of religion not our own, no to those who would keep us “in our place”.  No to the famous $9.00 oral contraceptives,and there are precisely two of them, neither of which is exactly the gold standard these days.  No, no, no, dammit no.

We have earned the right to equality of treatment and equality of care.  We have earned the right to have our needs met   We have earned the right to be bound by our own religious beliefs, not someone else’s,  We have earned the right to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit.

Just say no to discrimination, and those who would discriminate against us.  We no longer forgive them their trespasses.

This is an open thread.

 

Stop Fast Track and the TPP!

Wanna Be A Widdershin?

Send us a sample post at:

widdershinssubmissions at gmail dot com

Our Front-Pagers

Twittershins

I’m ready. Are you?

Are You…Too Left/Liberal For Obama?

Blog Archive

July 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 176 other followers