Friday, February 06, 2015

The Three Wise Men Wishing To Amend ACA To Remove Obligatory Maternity Care From Health Insurance

Three GOP guys who hate (HATEHATEHATE) the ACA (Affordable Care Act) want to eliminate maternity care as one of the things which health insurance must cover.  To give that some background, most individual health insurance policies before the Era of Obamacare (another name for the ACA, for those who live in happier places with national health care or health insurance) did not cover normal pregnancy and delivery.

Tara Culp-Ressler writes about this:

Nonetheless, it’s evident that the GOP lawmakers — Sen. Richard Burr (NC), Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT), and Rep. Fred Upton (MI) — are looking to undo many of the protections that Obamacare put in place for Americans who may struggle to afford insurance.
The Burr-Hatch-Upton plan would eliminate Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, which seeks to expand public health insurance to additional low-income people. It would also scale back the tax subsidies to help people purchase private plans. And it seeks to reduce federal regulation of “essential benefits,” dropping the current requirement for insurers to offer coverage for maternity care.
Obamacare mandates maternity coverage in all of the plans sold on its state-level marketplaces, a provision that quickly became a sticking point among opponents to the health law. Critics have latched onto it as an example of why they believe unnecessarily generous benefits will drive up health costs, complaining that having children is a choice and not everyone will need maternity care. During one House hearing, GOP lawmakers sarcastically asked former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius if she had ever heard of a man getting pregnant. Now, the Burr-Hatch-Upton plan addresses their concerns.

I love this!  I adore this!  It's such a beautiful example of stupidity.  It's certainly true that only some trans men could get pregnant, but it's even more true that Messrs. Burr, Hatch and Upton were themselves once born.

The point I'm desperately trying to make there is that a large chunk of the so-called maternity care is for the benefit of the child who is being born.  To assume that it only benefits women (that alien and deplorable part of humanity only necessary because of, you know, that birth thing) is stupid. 

See how I went around a circle there?  For the Burr-Hatch-Upton view to make sense we must assume that having children is a choice, a bit like choosing to wear high heels, and that upstanding gentlemen have nothing to do with that choice (no sperm involved, no necessity to continue the species, just an unfortunate choice that women should pay for as they pay for their Louboutins). 

But then why are similar conservative gentlemen so firmly opposed to abortion, so eager to regulate the wombs of this country?

Never mind.  Let's assume that insurance policies shouldn't have to cover anything we ourselves are unlikely to get.  So I no longer need to pay for anything that has to do with the diseases of the prostate or other parts of the male reproductive system?  And men don't have to pay for anything which has to do with the uterus, the ovaries, the female breasts and so on?

Let's go even further:  Why should my insurance cover sports injuries if I never engage in those sports myself?

This way of thinking, my friends, is the slippery slope to not having any pools for health insurance, because we can keep on dis-aggregating those classes into finer and finer slivers.

The only argument that deserves a more honest glance is the one about births not satisfying the insurance requirement of the insurable events being outside the person's control and not easily manipulatable (ok, it might not be a word but you know what I mean) by the insured people themselves.  But a huge proportion of all ill health* fails to satisfy those insurance criteria.  Indeed, health care is a very bad fit with the insurance model.  That's one reason why single-payer systems are more rational than traditional insurance.

*Or of health needs in general.  People getting vaccinated are not currently in ill health, annual checkups are carried out on largely healthy individuals and so on.  A normal pregnancy and delivery is not ill health, but if the appropriate care is missing it can quickly turn into just that.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Scott Walker and The Search For Truth

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, one of the Ringwraiths of the capitalist boyz' league (coughKochcough), has plans for the mission statement of the University of Wisconsin:

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget calls for essentially removing the public service language from the University of Wisconsin System's mission to focus more on workforce development, according to language released Wednesday morning.

Is the objective of a university to create worker drones?  Other hilarious changes in the mission statement include removing the goal of searching for the truth.

Walker is a likely contender for the next US presidential elections.  One day we may all learn how to please the firms best in our college careers!  What an irritating thought.

Training people for jobs is obviously part of the job of universities.  But the rewriting of the mission statement suggests a move away from the needs of the society on the whole and towards the needs of corporations.

Speaking of Scott Walker, here are his plans should he take over Washington, DC:

A Fort Dodge man asked Walker if he could use the same approach he used in “defeating unions” to take on liberals in Washington “and get some spending control bills and repeal Obamacare.”
“Absolutely,” Walker answered.

Destroying the unions is almost a done thing in this country.  It's also pretty closely linked to the increasing income and wealth inequality and bad news in many different ways, however badly some unions have behaved.  A person applying to be a janitor at a giant global firm cannot negotiate a contract as if both parties were the same size particles in some vat full of free-market ideals.

Clearly we need more of that.

Monday, February 02, 2015

On "Complementary" Gender Roles in Religions

The idea that men and women have been designed by a supreme power as complements to each other is common both in Christianity and in Islam.  Most recently I spotted a reference to it in an article about the Catholic Church and its woman problem:

Helen Alvare, a law professor at George Mason University and a consultant at the Vatican's laity office, said the language in the draft paper was remarkable given that it calls for "collaboration and integration" with men within the church. She said that mirrors findings from leading business consultancies that companies do better when men and women collaborate at every level.
"That statement is the strongest endorsement I have seen in a church document for what we sometimes call complementarity within the church," she said in a phone interview.

Bolds are mine.

I obviously clap my hands very hard for any positive change for women within Christianity, Judaism and Islam.  But I'm not a friend of the complementarity concept, not at all.

First, women and men are a lot more similar than they are different, and I believe that both genders need many of the same things.  To stipulate something different is almost like asking people to live on either just bread or on just water.  Parts of you will die if your diet is that monotonous.   

Second, there are soul-killing aspects in the rigid assumption of separate spheres by gender, and in extreme cases this leads to women losing their right to go out and watch the sunset or to get a job (assuming that the public sphere belongs to men).  One soul-killing aspect to consider is the fact that the complementarity is almost never defined by women but a few powerful male clerics.

Third, the complementarity assumption does great violence to those individuals (and I guess they are many) who suffer under the gender roles they have been assigned.  And when complementarity holds hands with the assumption of women's inferiority, many of those sufferers will be women.

Finally,  it's very important to remember that complementarity in roles, rights and obligations doesn't have to look like a cake divided into two equal halves, one given to men and one given to women. 

It could also be a cake divided into one tiny sliver and the huge remainder, and the sliver is given to the women.  Note that this division is also complementary, because the two parts add up to the whole cake!  Or the good and tasty bits of the cake could be given to one gender while the other gets the moldy corners.

If none of that convinced you just consider how I would arrange the world if all other people would have to be complements to me.  Wouldn't the risk be pretty high that I'd pick all the plum roles, all the roles with prestige and freedom, and that I'd leave the rotten bits to you lot?