Obamacare's Assault on Women
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By Sally C. Pipes
President Obama has opened up a healthy lead over Republican candidate Mitt Romney among women, according to a new Reuters poll. Many pundits are attributing the lead to the president's healthcare law -- particularly its much-discussed mandate of contraception coverage.
But President Obama's views -- particularly on health care -- are hardly in step with most women. The law fundamentally shifts control over medical decisions from patients and their doctors to the federal government. That's bad news for all Americans -- especially women.
For starters, it's not even clear that women support Obamacare's contraception mandate, which requires all organizations -- including religiously affiliated ones -- to provide coverage for services that may run contrary to their teachings.
According to a March New York Times/CBS poll, a majority of women believe that religious organizations should not have to cover the full cost of birth control. A plurality of women even said that no employer -- secular or religious -- should be forced to supply contraceptives.
These women recognize that a government powerful enough to mandate birth control coverage is also powerful enough to potentially take it -- or any other medical service -- away down the road.
Obamacare's reams of mandates endanger Americans' ability to select the health insurance they want -- or to keep the insurance they already have.
This week, the House Ways and Means Committee released a report estimating that American employers could save $422 billion over the course of a decade by dropping insurance coverage in 2014, when Obamacare's insurance subsidies kick in.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that up to 20 million people will lose the coverage they currently get through their employer once Obamacare is fully in place. Former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin estimates that nearly twice as many -- 35 million -- will be dropped from employer plans.
Many of those folks will find themselves on Medicaid in swift order.
Further decisions that should be between doctors and patients will increasingly end up in the hands of the feds.
Just look at the new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), which specializes in comparing the effectiveness of various treatment methods.
Comparative-effectiveness research has been used for years in Great Britain to decide which treatments the government will pay for. A new drug or procedure must be deemed to provide sufficient bang for its buck.
In other words, a treatment may be medically effective but not considered cost-effective according to the government's quality-adjusted life years index. In that case, Britain's nationalized healthcare system wouldn't cover it -- no matter how many lives it might save.
For instance, the British government refuses to cover the breast cancer drug Lapatinib -- denying thousands of terminally ill Britons access to a treatment that can halve the speed at which their breast cancer grows.
The Obama Administration says that PCORI won't take cost into consideration -- but with government now paying for half of all health care consumed in this country, that promise will be hard to keep.
Outcomes research was also behind the 2009 recommendation by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services panel that women in their 40s not receive regular mammograms. The panel said that mammograms don't save enough lives to be worth the cost -- even though breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women aged 40 to 49. Further, early detection vastly improves a person's chance of survival.
Obamacare's economic impact should also be worrisome to women. The White House sold the law as a way to reduce the deficit by $140 billion over the next ten years -- and by as much as $1 billion in the decade after that.
But a recent report by Dr. Charles Blahous, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center and a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare, showed that the new healthcare law will add between $346 billion and $527 billion to the deficit over the next decade.
That's money that future generations will have to shell out in the form of higher taxes and reduced services from the federal government. Thanks to Obamacare, mothers concerned about their kids' futures have yet one more thing to fret about.
Indeed, if keeping one's family healthy and preserving a strong economy for future generations aren't women's issues, then what are?
Sally C. Pipes is President, CEO, and Taube Fellow in Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is The Pipes Plan: The Top Ten Ways to Dismantle and Replace Obamacare (Regnery 2012).
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