Tag Archives: Health Care
Justice Sonia Sotomayor

The High Court and the Contraception Mandate

In the final hours of 2013, Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an injunction for Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged and the Christian Brothers Service, deciding that until further notice, these organizations do not have to comply with rules for religiously-affiliated non-profits under the contraception mandate implemented on January 1, 2014.

In her order for the injunction last Tuesday, Justice Sotomayor gave the government until 10 a.m. Friday, January 3rd, to respond. In the memorandum filed on  Friday morning, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued that since the insurer, Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust, has a “church plan” under ERISA (and is therefore fully exempt), neither the insurer, Christian Brothers, nor the religious non-profit employer, Little Sisters of the Poor, would have to provide contraception care. This is similar to the argument the government used when this case was heard in the 10th Circuit. Little Sisters qualifies as a religious non-profit and therefore would have to self-certify to be accommodated.

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A New Healthcare System for a New Year

As we turn the calendar to 2014 tonight, we’ll also be turning the page to a new era of healthcare coverage in this country. While consumers are already enjoying many of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, the majority of the law’s provisions kick in tonight at midnight. So, what exactly changes when the ball drops?

Bashana haba’ah, In the New Year to Come

As we close the book on 2013 and turn to welcome a new year, the 2013-2014 Eisendrath Legislative Assistants are wrapping up their first four months at the Religious Action Center, filled with challenges, successes, new adventures, numerous trips to Starbucks and a lot of fun! Looking towards the next weeks and months, a new year, the LA’s compiled a “wish-list” for what they hope our nation can achieve. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.

Sarah Greenberg

In 2014, it is my wish that all women around the world can access a safe, legal, and affordable abortion if they so chose–we must repeal the Hyde Amendment, bans on abortion after arbitrary periods in gestation, restrictive parental notification laws and all other laws on waiting periods and preliminary steps before an abortion (even if they aren’t cost-prohibitive, are certainly time-prohibitive.) In practice, these laws disproportionately affect low-income women who cannot afford the procedure, nor take time off of work. Reproductive freedom is not only a “woman’s issue, ”but rather it is an “everyone issue”–decisions around family planning are about families, a woman’s self-determination and her equality. Read more…

Exterior Supreme Court

Reproductive Rights in 2013, What to Look Out for in 2014

2013 was a busy year for reproductive rights advocates: between a 20-week ban passing the House of Representatives, the same law being introduced into the Senate, some successful attempts to pass restrictive state and local laws and numerous developments around the contraception mandate and the Affordable Care Act, there has hardly been a moment to rest.

There is no question that 2014 will be another milestone year because of two cases before the United States Supreme Court: McCullen v. Coakley and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga v. Sebelius (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga will be combined into one case when oral argument is heard in March).

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Orthotricyclen pill pack

New Year Brings Expiration of Contraception Mandate Safe Harbor

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is probably best known for two things at this juncture: the website and the so-called “contraception cases.” In between the enrollment push and the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cases at the Supreme Court, it can be easy to forget about the other moving parts. At the beginning of the new year, a significant component of the contraception mandate will take effect, ending what is called the “safe harbor.”

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Don’t Be Caught Uninsured in the New Year

If you plan on obtaining health insurance coverage through the new plans available under the ACA, there are a number of critical deadlines to keep in mind. Some deadlines have changed and the multiple deadlines can be confusing, so if you are considering purchasing health insurance in the individual marketplace from healthcare.gov, read on as we untangle the web of deadlines.

The deadline for enrolling in insurance coverage to begin on January 1, 2014 was originally 11:59 pm tonight (December 23rd), but it has just been reported that the deadline has been pushed back one day, to 11:59 pm on Christmas Eve. Read more…

Healthcare for All: Expanding Medicaid

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is multifaceted and complex—in addition to its goal of containing costs, one of the ACA’s primary mandates is to increase the number of Americans with health insurance. The bill does so through a number of provisions:

  • Creating the new Health Insurance Marketplace, exchanges where Americans can purchase health insurance;
  • Establishing subsidies and tax credits that encourage both individuals and employees to purchase insurance;
  • Prohibiting insurance companies from denying those with pre-existing conditions from insurance plans;
  • Expanding Medicaid to cover a larger number of Americans.

Surprisingly to many of the law’s proponents, this last component has become particularly controversial. Medicaid has always been run by each state with guidance and funding from the federal government, and in June 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that each state has the option of opting out of the expansion contained in the ACA. Many states have taken advantage of that ruling and are refusing to expand Medicaid.

What does the Medicaid expansion do?

Prior to the passage of the ACA, Medicaid provided health insurance for some, but not all, low-income Americans. In addition to having to fall below an income-threshold set by each state, Medicaid recipients were required to meet a number of other conditions, which varied from state to state. As a result, many of the most impoverished Americans were excluded from the program.

Under the ACA, however, Medicaid eligibility was expanded to include all Americans with an annual income up to 133% of the federal poverty level. The federal government will pay for 100% of the expansion in each state for the first three years, and then reduce its share of the cost to 90% by 2020.

Why is that a good thing?

It means that more Americans will be covered by health insurance—and, in particular, the neediest among us will have critical access to care. The Medicaid expansion facilitates the moral obligation of doctors, patients and society to provide and obtain healthcare for all.

Our Jewish tradition teaches us that human life is of infinite value and that the preservation of life supersedes almost all other considerations. Our communities have always provided healing to all their citizens and over the course of history, our communities have been set up to ensure that all citizens had access to health care–doctors reduced rates for poor patients and communal subsidies were established. Unfortunately, not every state has accepted the Medicaid expansion—in fact 21 states have chosen not to expand the program. These states are effectively turning away federal funding and at the same time keeping the number of uninsured in their states unconscionably high.

The decision to expand Medicaid is one made by governors and state legislators. Work to expand Medicaid in your state here!

Small, temporary houses against a backdrop of southwestern rock formations

Protect the Vulnerable During the Holidays: American Indians and Alaska Natives at Risk

American Indians and Alaska Natives have signed a vast number of treaties with the federal government, which  broadly exchanged American Indian land for the promises of healthcare and education from the federal government. While these two contractually obligated services are underfunded in good years, the impact of sequestration on these programs is devastating, unfairly putting the burden of the deficit on American Indians and Alaska Natives. Read more…

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