Why the Blunt amendment is so bad

AltThe Senate is slated to vote today on the controversial Blunt amendment, which several Republican senators either oppose or are undecided on and which Mitt Romney weighed in on yesterday. The Blunt amendment, which Dan deftly took down earlier this month, would allow employers to deny employees any medical treatment or service they object to for any moral reason.

The concept of putting an employer between an individual and his or her doctor is about much more than contraception– this is about giving employers veto power over the health and well-being of their employees.

Prominent faith groups, including the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, the United Methodist Church and the Union for Reform Judaism among others, have all spoken out to oppose the measure, saying “ the Blunt amendment would eviscerate critical protections in the Affordable Care Act and completely undermine a fundamental principle of the health care law—that everyone in this country deserves a basic standard of health insurance coverage.”

Unfortunately, other religious organizations are weighing in with ad campaigns and public statements endorsing the proposed amendment under the guise of religious liberty. Catholic Advocate PAC, a conservative Catholic outfit that has financially supported Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (who has sponsored his own similar amendment), has a new video ad out.

The ad focuses solely on the recent accommodation to the HHS ruling on contraception coverage, without mentioning the litany of other medical procedures the Blunt amendment could effect. It also conveniently neglects to clarify that the HHS exemption is for religiously based employers (churches, dioceses, and with the accommodation, religious hospitals, social service providers, and universities) and the Blunt amendment would allow any employer (from an insurance agent to a Taco Bell franchise owner to an investment banker) to deny medical coverage to their employees for almost any reason.

The Blunt amendment is an extreme attempt to dismantle critical protections under the Affordable Care Act. Well-meaning religious groups convinced to support it as a remedy to their misguided concerns about the religious accommodation are missing the forest for the trees.

It’s heartening to see faith groups and a host of other organizations taking a stand and reminding lawmakers that religious liberty and health care shouldn’t be pitted against one another.

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