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Letters to the Editor

A political ploy

March 12, 2012


To the editor:

I wish to respond to Scott Burkhart’s letter of March 7. Mr. Burkhart gives voice to the latest culture war salvo of the Republican Party, decrying the proposed contraceptive mandate as an attack on religious freedom, particularly the Catholic Church. Nonsense. His position conveniently ignores several salient facts:

Studies have shown that no less than 98 percent of Catholics have used contraception. Like most employers, the archdiocese pays a portion of the health insurance coverage for employees; the employee pays the rest. Is it fair to say that contraception care is paid for by the employee who uses it (and has a co-pay) and not the church? 

At least 26 states already have laws that require insurance companies to provide coverage for contraception, including such dark red states as Georgia, Texas and Virginia. Georgia’s law is among several that do not allow for an employer or employee to opt out of paying for the coverage for religious or moral reasons. The Georgia law was passed over 20 years ago by a Republican legislature and signed by a Republican governor. Catholic institutions in the state have been adhering to the law without a peep. Is it fair to say that the outrage now is a political ploy? 

And finally, my favorite, insurance plans universally pay for Viagra. Men can play, but women can’t? It is clear this latest tempest in a teapot is just another political attack meant to rally the troops of the conservatives against the president’s administration.


verity 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank you.

Now pass the popcorn, please. We're going to be here a long time.

Greg Cooper 3 years, 8 months ago

Which says exactly nothing about anyone being forced to buy contraceptives.

Fail, part two.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

"Is it fair to say that the outrage now is a political ploy?"

No, that's not fair, because everybody knows that already.

Brock Masters 3 years, 8 months ago

The point of all of this is government should not be telling business or churches what they have to provide to their employees in terms of health insurance. It is a business decision between the employer and employee and the business and the insurance provider.

Keep government out of it.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

If the employer pays for the policies, then the contract is between the employer and the insurance company, isn't it?

If employees buy health insurance on their own, then they can buy whatever policies they like.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

Some employers pay all of the premiums, although that's less common these days.

I'm not at all sure that's true, about the contract. Any lawyers?

The employer (in my example, where they pay for the insurance) is contracting with an insurance company to provide certain benefits to their employees.

I think if the employer pays for it, then they have the right to decide what benefits they're offering.

Do you think we should require employers to provide certain retirement plans?

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

It would be appropriate for them to decide what sort of retirement benefits they offer - defined contribution, defined benefit, matching, etc.

Or not offering one at all would also be an option.

Saying that an employer must provide contraception coverage in insurance plans seems more analogous to me to saying that they must provide a certain kind of retirement plan.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

I disagree with your analogy, and think mine is more apt.

Insurance coverage varies from company to company, and from year to year - both what's covered, and at what financial level.

It's not simply money that can be used to buy whatever you want.

Your last paragraph may have merit, but what gives the government that right?

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

Well, maybe.

Why isn't the federal government using that clause, then, to justify the ACA? They're using the ICC instead, and a very broad interpretation of it.

Which level of government is involved with your examples, state or federal? The two levels have differing scopes.

State governments license various professions, as far as I know.

You can buy unpasteurized milk - raw milk - as well as cheese that's been made from it, to my knowledge.

And, many of your examples are "safety" issues - is micromanaging insurance companies a safety issue?

The question is whether or not the federal government has the right to micromanage private businesses, and if so, why?

woodscolt 3 years, 8 months ago

Then your vote is for the "death panels" that Sarah Palin famously supports.

usnsnp 3 years, 8 months ago

Using the idea that business or church should not have to provide certain medical procedures if it conflicts with their teachings or morals. Then a buisness or church could say I dont believe in doctors so I will not provide this in your health insurance. This may be an extreme example, but will the new norm be that someone looking for a job will have to now check what the religious teachings of the owner of the buisness is. So you may have to pass up a good paying job and take a low paying job because of religious teachings.

Michael LoBurgio 3 years, 8 months ago

Abortion bill raises KU Med accreditation

The chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee said the panel will move forward on an anti-abortion bill this week, despite concerns from University of Kansas Medical Center officials about what it might mean to the institution's accreditation.

Michael LoBurgio 3 years, 8 months ago

Brownback: ‘Go work somewhere else’ if you want contraception

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has a simple solution for women who work for religious institutions that refuse to cover birth control: Find a new job.

During a call-in show on C-SPAN Monday morning, a woman named Doris from Osawatomie, Kansas told Brownback that she was worried that he wanted to turn back the clock on women’s rights.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

Both sides do this sort of thing all the time.

It's distasteful to me, regardless of which side does it.

Richard Payton 3 years, 8 months ago

Watched the ESPN special last night and Magic Johnson wishes he had used contraception. I appreciate Mr. Johnson telling kids to practice safe sex and avoid hiv. This man is a superstar on and off the field.

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 8 months ago

Will the Catholic Church be forced to pay for erections?


Has Santorum spoken with his Holiness about this issue yet?

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 8 months ago

I think the moral of the story is that these kind of issues have no place in politics.

Patricia Davis 3 years, 8 months ago

The issue would be mute if our country had universal health care. Why should a person's health care be tied to an employer? A universal system would relieve the Catholics and others from having their religious beliefs compromised and women could what they want to do regarding their bodies.

Not be at all religious, perhaps we should stop subsidizing large families by limiting a family to two deductions on their income tax. Personally I think the Catholic church and keeping women as breeding cows is rather like a Ponzi scheme. If Catholic women say: no more children under this regime, it would be a big dent in the Catholic budget.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

Maybe employers should get out of the providing health insurance business altogether. Simply pay the employee an amount equivalent to the cost of the health care and allow the employee to do with that money whatever they choose. They could use that money to get health care, put it into a health care savings account or buy lottery tickets with it. Of course, should they not choose wisely, we as a society need to be willing to force them to accept the consequences of those decisions. Health care being provided for by employers began as a way for employers to attract good employees and retain them. Now, it's become an obligation. When it became an obligation, the relationship between good employers wanting to attract good employees and retain good employees became an adversarial relationship. Avoid the tension, give them the money and the freedom to do as they wish with it.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

I think it's worth considering.

But, what if employers don't want to pay the money in salaries, and simply want to eliminate the benefit?

Should we force them to pay the equivalent amount in salaries?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

Good businesses will make good business decisions if they want to attract and retain good employees. If the business isn't attracting and retaining good employees through paying competitive wages, they will suffer in the long run and go out or business. If it's a bad business and bad employees, they deserve each other.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

Only true if there's a surplus of jobs, and businesses have to compete for employees.

That's currently not true.

verity 3 years, 8 months ago

This is another "seems obvious," so one has to think that the people using that excuse are grasping at straws.

And the current trend toward busting unions only adds to the problem.

verity 3 years, 8 months ago

The above (I think that's where it will end up) was a reply to Jafs' comment. Since the indent only goes so far, sometimes it's not apparent.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

If an employer is mandated to provide health care insurance, would it be O.K. for the employer to mandate that the employee assist in keeping those costs down. Could an employer mandate non-smoking, non-drinking, no fast food, regular exercise?
Why one and not the other?

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

That's an interesting thought.

There are two different question there, of course - one is whether or not the government has the right to mandate what employers do, and the other whether or not employers have the right to mandate what employees do.

I tend to think the answer to both questions is no.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

No - a mandate is a requirement, whereas higher premiums are just a consequence of higher risk activities.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago


Mandating means requiring something - a "mandate" to live heathfully by an insurance company would be a requirement to do so.

That would mean that if you don't do that, you lose your coverage.

Paying higher premiums due to your higher risk activities is just a way to fairly establish premiums.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

You could say, I suppose, that they're "mandating" the higher premiums.

ferrislives 3 years, 8 months ago

First, why should the Catholic church be able to pick and choose what they want to provide health-wise when they receive tax breaks from the federal government?

Second, does this mean that STD meds, including the HPV shots, shouldn't be covered? How about vasectomies, Viagra, fertilization therapy, etc.?

As I said before, it's a slippery slope when you start enforcing your personal beliefs on everyone else, especially when you take a hand out from the federal government each year. How about they give up their tax-exempt status so that they can do whatever they want? You can't have it both ways.

verity 3 years, 8 months ago

Another seems obvious---but apparently not.

One question that no one seems to be able to answer---why is the objection only to birth control?

George Lippencott 3 years, 8 months ago

Here we go again. Womanhood is being laid low by evil Catholics or Republicans. Really?? The recent requirement to cover reproductive services issued under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act establishes for the first time such a national requirement. Up until now the coverage offered by health insurance within a state was up to the state. At best only three states require such coverage without providing a religious belief exemption.

Bottom line is that no one is being denied anything by anybody. A new requirement has been levied and we are arguing about it. The issue will undoubtedly end up in court. One need ask why such a fuss and my conclusion is that it is a political ploy to win votes from women by framing the issue as a deliberate attack upon them as a class

From my perspective I find it difficult to understand why intelligent and educated women would fall for this ploy. The notion of free is at best speculatively. Somebody will pay. Either the tax payers or the health insurance participant. For those working to better themselves who expect a professional career with a good level of remuneration this requirement will hit them in their taxes and in their premiums. Do any of you expect the combined costs will be less than what they pay now?

As far as the Catholic Church is impacted, there is no requirement under the Affordable Care Act that they provide health insurance at all. They can just pay a relatively small fine. So the likely outcome of this mandate if upheld by the courts is that the church will no longer provide insurance to employees who of course will be free to seek it under the other provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

I guess the half million or so woman actually affected by the church’s concern with providing certain reproductive services will be better off paying their own way.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

You don't need to have a vasectomy. You only need to claim that you had one.

verity 3 years, 8 months ago

Freudian slip or fake apology?

I adore my hysterectomy.

verity 3 years, 8 months ago

Too late for me---I've missed my chance.

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