Family Research Council

December 10, 2013 - Tuesday

Doc the Halls with Fewer Health Plans...

The weather may be chilly, but it's nothing compared to people's reactions to ObamaCare. This month, the only thing falling faster than the temperature is the number of the new law's supporters. Making matters worse, the policy's biggest defectors seem to be the ones most crucial to it: the medical community.

Thousands of doctors are walking away from the exchange in a large-scale mutiny over the government's reimbursement rates. In California, where 70% of the 104,000 physicians are refusing to participate in ObamaCare, practices stand to lose millions of dollars under the state's bargain basement insurance rates. The Washington Examiner's Richard Pollack broke it down this way. "In other states, doctors receive between $500 to $700 to perform a tonsillectomy. In California [under the state exchange], they get $160."

If you're wondering what's worse than a dysfunctional website, try a health care exchange without doctors! Or hospitals. With the government trying to drive down coverage costs, insurance companies have no choice but to exclude some of the more expensive facilities from their plans -- including some of the top-ranked hospitals and cancer centers. In Ohio, for example, only one policy on the exchange gives patients access to the Cleveland Clinic. Other facilities are opting out for the same reasons doctors are -- lower reimbursement rates.

The new revelations put the White House back on familiar ground: the defensive. "The President never said you were going to have unlimited choice of any doctor in the country you want to go to," said former White House aide Ezekiel Emanuel and one of the architects of ObamaCare. In the latest twist on the President's infamous promise, Emanuel insisted, "If you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that."

But after this week's news on prescription drugs, who knows if patients will be able to afford it? According to health analysts, Americans will only be able to keep their medicine -- if they have the money to pay for it. "Health plans are cheapening their drug formularies -- just like they cheapened their networks of doctors," explained policy expert Scott Gottlieb. "That's how they're paying for the benefits that President Obama promised -- [like] leveling of premiums between older (and typically costlier) beneficiaries, and younger consumers." For now, if a drug doesn't appear on these new "formulary lists," patients could be paying for it entirely out of pocket.

On the bright side, there's still free birth control, right? Wrong. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) blew that myth to bits in an interview about the Left's insulting outreach to women. "When they're talking about free preventive care for women, I'm having a hard time understanding where the 'free' part is," Ellmers told reporters. "What Democrats fail to mention is now the cost of insurance is... many times quadrupling, in cost, and deductibles are going up by thousands of dollars." After all, men aren't the only ones losing their health insurance and watching their premiums skyrocket. "[Democrats'] mindset is that the only issues women care about have to do with their bodies... [as if] the only thing women care about are free contraception and whether or not they have a right to abortion. As Republicans, we know women in this country are concerned with the path that we're on right now and so many other issues, health being one of them..."

Like us, she finds it offensive that liberals try to reduce her concerns -- and those of millions of other women -- to sexual politics. The media likes to paint the GOP as a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, but Republicans aren't the ones dragging women by the hair and treating them as single-dimension voters.

Meanwhile, one area of "reproductive care" that men and women equally despise is the HHS mandate, which forces employers -- whether or not it violates their beliefs-- to pay for drugs that can destroy a human embryo. In surveys across the spectrum, this continues to be one of the most unpopular aspects of ObamaCare. FRC's nationwide poll shows that a whopping 59% of voters -- including 61% of independents -- object to HHS's coercion. Rasmussen's results were just as unflattering -- 51% opposition on the birth control coverage alone. Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to decide the debate, faithful Americans hope the justices will grant what the White House won't: freedom. For more on this most important of ObamaCare exemptions, check out Emily Minick's Washington Times column for FRC here.

Manger No Danger to Air Force

First there was no room at the inn. Now there's no room for Mary and Joseph anywhere on Air Force property. If you need a quick response from the Pentagon, said Liberty Institute's Hiram Sasser, just tell them there's "a plastic baby Jesus at the gates." Considering the reaction at Shaw Air Force Base, you'd think nativity scenes are the next greatest threat to American security. Earlier this week, the President's Defense Department rushed to neutralize the risk of a manger at the South Carolina installation after local Airmen insisted the display was emotionally traumatizing.

In swooped Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who alerted the Pentagon that the scene was illegal because it wasn't "erected near a chapel." After investigating, Washington phoned the base and ordered the holy family off the grounds and into storage. Unfortunately, this kind of seasonal censorship is nothing new for Weinstein's crowd, who last year argued that a live nativity on a U.S. Navy base in Bahrain somehow endangered U.S. lives. At Shaw, these Airmen have sacrificed their Christmases to defend the freedoms and the rights of people as misguided as Mikey Weinstein. The least we can do is respect the Constitution they're defending, and give these troops the same freedom that's been afforded every American since the Supreme Court ruled on nativities in 1984.

The brass in Washington may have caved, but two school districts in Montana refuse to. After the Freedom From Religion Foundation tried to make it a real silent night for school choirs, Kalispell and Whitefish Public Schools stood their ground and said the show would go on. With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, the district gave their choirs the green light to sing at local church festivals. "A handful of misguided complaints and a misunderstanding of the First Amendment law should not be allowed to harm students and deprive them of educational experiences that serve the community," said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.

In the meantime, the war on Christmas isn't over -- it has only expanded into a broader, 12-month battle over religious expression. And Christians will continue having success in it the more comfortable they are standing up -- and speaking out -- for truth.

Stem Cells: Fact vs. Fiction

The policy debate over stem cell research and funding isn't grabbing as many headlines as it used to, but that doesn't mean there isn't news to share! In the midst of one of the greatest medical revolutions in history, most people still don't know the difference between types of stem cells, their ethics, and their practical effectiveness. Join us tomorrow at FRC headquarters (801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001) to hear the latest facts on stem cells as well as the continuing political friction, the medical promise, and the hope from one of the world's foremost experts on the topic: FRC Senior Fellow Dr. David Prentice. The discussion kicks off at noon -- so save your seat today! Click over to FRC's Events page to register to attend in person or to watch live online.

** Will the Dems' "nuclear" power grab cost them? FRC's Ken Klukowski thinks so. Find out why in his recent Breitbart column.


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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