Scott Brown doubles down on Roy Blunt’s crazy amendment

Bumped, because it turns out that Scott Brown, when he was a state rep, voted for a stronger birth-control mandate than Obama's. Oopsie. - promoted by david

Scott Brown, who is down in the polls and scrambling desperately for a winning strategy, has apparently concluded that his path to victory runs through those voters who … don’t like birth control??!!

As you may have heard, right-wing Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) has offered a truly extreme amendment to the Affordable Care Act.  Of course it is not going to pass, but it’s turned into something of a flash point.  And the critical thing to realize about Blunt’s amendment is this: it goes way beyond birth control, and it goes way beyond religious belief.  Blunt’s amendment would permit any employer, insurer, or health care provider to deny coverage for anything, as long as they say that covering that thing is against either their religious beliefs or their “moral convictions” - and “moral convictions” is not defined in the amendment.  Apparently, if you say “I’m agin’ it” three times, that’ll do.

For the sticklers out there, here is the relevant text of Blunt’s amendment:

A health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the essential health benefits package described in subsection (a) … on the basis that it declines to provide coverage of specific items or services because— (i) providing coverage (or, in the case of a sponsor of a group health plan, paying for coverage) of such specific items or services is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan; or (ii) such coverage (in the case of individual coverage) is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the purchaser or beneficiary of the coverage.

Nothing about abortion or contraception, just “specific items or services,” which seems potentially to include everything.  And note that “religious beliefs” and “moral convictions” are distinct categories of reasons that it’s OK to deny coverage.  So even if your religion doesn’t say anything about a particular health care service, an employer can deny coverage just because, well, he doesn’t like it.  Employer doesn’t want to pay for AIDS treatment because he thinks it’s a disease that bad people like gays and drug addicts get?  No problem – his “moral convictions” let him deny coverage.  Here are two more examples, from health care expert (and Warren supporter) John McDonough:

Let’s say you had me as your employer. Let’s say I assumed all folks with substance abuse problems should join Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, and that should be enough treatment. Under the Blunt-Brown proposal, I would be acting within my rights as your employer.

Here’s another: regular readers of this column know that I’m vegan, in other words, I don’t eat anything that has a mother. That’s a health judgment on my part, and it’s also a moral conviction. Under this proposed legislation, I would be within my rights as your employer to provide no coverage for any essential or preventive health benefit tied to Type II diabetes because I believe it’s largely caused by our awful American diet. I guess no diabetic would want to work for me, and then I’d save a lot of money too. All potentially legal under the Blunt-Brown view of how things should be.

Folks, this is crazy talk.  And Scott Brown is all for it.  Here’s the email from Team Brown that I just got:

One of our most fundamental rights as a people is the freedom of religion. It was right here in Plymouth, Massachusetts that pilgrims from Europe established a colony because of religious persecution at home.

Now, it is Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren who has assumed the mantle of oppressor. She and her allies on the left are dictating to Catholics and other people of faith that they must do as they are told when it comes to health care or face the consequences, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.

That’s not the America our Founding Fathers envisioned, and it’s just one of the unhealthy side effects of Obamacare, which seeks to impose a one-size-fits-all, government-knows-best health care program on the whole country.

Obamacare is bad law and needs to be repealed. Until that day arrives, it’s important we fight to protect the public from some of its worst aspects.

I support a conscience exemption in health care for Catholics and other people of faith. That’s why I signed on to Senator Roy Blunt’s bill to restore the conscience protections in the law that existed prior to the passage of Obamacare.

Professor Warren is opposed to providing a conscience exemption. Her view is that government can mandate religious people and organizations to act in ways that are contrary to their most deeply-held principles. This type of thinking strikes at the very heart of the religious freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.

My last opponent, Martha Coakley, took the same position and said Catholics who work in emergency rooms should find a new line of work. This attitude is highly offensive to all Americans, not just people of faith.

Religious liberty is at the core of our nation’s founding, and we in Massachusetts know that better than anyone. It is has helped make us a strong and diverse nation. We must continue to cherish it and fight back against those who would chip away at it.

Sincerely,

Scott Brown

Now, either Scott hasn’t read the Blunt amendment and doesn’t know what’s in it, or he doesn’t care (I’m not sure which is worse).  Because to read his email, you’d think the Blunt amendment was all about religious liberty, whereas, as we have just demonstrated it’s not.  And to read his email, you’d think that employers who simply don’t like something (whether for religious or other reasons) have always been allowed to refuse to pay for it, whereas in fact that is not the case.  Blunt’s kooky amendment goes way beyond anything we’ve ever contemplated.

In short, Scott Brown is panicking.  When people panic, they often make bad decisions because they are so freaked out that they fail to think through the consequences of their actions.  It sure looks to me like that’s exactly what Brown is doing with the Blunt amendment.  Blunt is an extreme guy, and his amendment is an extreme proposal.  No way it’s going to fly in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Warren’s statement on this business is on the flip.

New Proposal Threatens Everyone’s Health Care
ELIZABETH WARREN CONDEMNS REPUBLICAN BILL CO-SPONSORED BY SENATOR BROWN

Proposal would allow any employer or insurance company to deny anyone access to any health service

SOMERVILLE, MA– Consumer advocate and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren today said a Republican proposal that would allow any employer or insurance company to deny anyone access to any health service is irresponsible.

“This is a completely new attack that threatens everyone’s health care,” said Warren, of the proposal, introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and co-sponsored by Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). “It is an irresponsible assault on the health care of every family in Massachusetts and around our country.”

“I respect the solution President Obama provided last week that ensures that religious institutions are not forced to cover contraception but still makes sure women can get the health services they need. This new bill is not about any of that. This bill would allow any employer or insurance company to refuse to cover anyone for anything,” Warren said.

The Blunt-Brown bill is different from previous proposals, taking an extremely broad approach that allows any employer or insurance company to claim any objection and use it to deny any health insurance coverage to anyone, for any health service. The company needs to claim only that it has a “moral conviction,” an expansive term that is not defined in the proposed legislation.

“Scott Brown is on the wrong side here, standing with Washington and Republican extremists and against the people of Massachusetts – our families, our seniors, and everyone who relies on health insurance to get the care they need,” said Warren. “This is a critical issue and when he ought to be putting the people of Massachusetts first, he’s not.”

The amendment, supported by Brown, was introduced as President Obama offered a compromise to religious institutions that were uncomfortable with offering contraceptive and other health care coverage to their employees. Supporters of the amendment wrongly claim it writes the compromise into law. In fact, it would undermine health insurance and health care, especially recently passed reforms expanding coverage.

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Recommended by somervilletom, johnk.



Discuss

21 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Thanks for posting on FP ...

    Brown jumping on this nutty amendment is significant, it boggles the mind. Is he’s trying to get the far right wing votes? He’s already got them, independents? really? I’m not thinking so. What it allows is Warren to get into the mix with a populist message, and correctly painting Brown with the extreme right. Herald for the past tow days have been avoiding this, don’t think they can do so much longer. We need to push this, Warren is doing her best to do so.

  2. This stance baffles.

    If Senator Brown wanted another opportunity to say, “See, I’m not one of those really extreme guys,” it would seem this one is a no-brainer.

  3. Surprise, surprise

    ThinkProgress points out that Brown once voted for a stronger contraception mandate.

    • TPM called Brown's office

      Brown’s office did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment.

      Nice touch.

      • But BS journalism

        Someone calls and says, “Can I get a comment on X?”

        Answer: “Uh, I’m the receptionist, let me see if I can find someone to help you. Give your information, and I’ll have someone get back to you.”

        Reporter: “Here you go. My deadline is in 15 minutes.”

        Then: ABC did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

        You find this a lot in the Herald, it is in my view a hallmark of hack, propaganda journalism.

        • What do you think

          about the underlying story? Seems pretty embarrassing to me – a classic Romneyesque flip-flop, except that Brown’s seems to be completely pointless because his old position was far more in tune with MA voters than his new one.

  4. A skillful politician might be

    able to walk the fine line necessary to be a Republican senator from Massachusetts. Scott Brown is not a skillful politician. He’s got Mitt Romney’s soul and Sarah Palin’s brain.

    • Caution...

      You said : “Scott Brown is not a skillful politician. He’s got Mitt Romney’s soul and Sarah Palin’s brain.”

      If we foolishly convince ourselves that these three things are true, we will lose the war. Beware.

      • Precisely!

        As ignorance has grown to be a solid plank of our popular culture, so has the Massachusetts electorate declined in the ability to thoughtfully dissect political rhetoric and policy. Beware…..and yes, we told you so.

    • Massachusetts Democrats

      must R E A L L Y suck then

      • Well, hate to say it but

        the Coakley campaign sure did.

        • Ain't it the truth

          The mis-perception that Massachusetts is a guaranteed Blue State must be buried. Scott Brown already proved it once. Independents are the majority “party” not Democrats. There are no guarantees, shoe-ins or certainties in this race. Brown made a mistake. Warren and everyone concerned about personal freedom should pounce on this because there are lots of people lighting up the “comments” on MSM articles about this subject who are demonizing President Obama and agreeing with Brown. Ignorance is rampant. Sexism and racism are alive and prospering in MA and the good ole USA.

          • Who is saying that

            Massachusetts is a guaranteed Blue State?

            Find another straw man. I ain’t it.

            • The straw man you are not

              You are bright and passionate…..my comment was in reply to the post by trickle-up. As you see, I am echoing her/his observation of the Coakley campaign against Brown. Peace out.

              • Thanks for that

                but it’s Commodore Peary who is giving the marching orders, quoting me and with an admonitory finger: “If we foolishly convince ourselves that these three things are true, we will lose the war. Beware.”

    • No danger of me doing that.

      Thanks. Who’s foolishly convincing themselves of that?

      These periodic warnings seem to condone self-censorship.

  5. Subtle digs at "elitist" and "Harvard"--will that work in Massachusetts?

    I’ve noticed that Scott Brown is using code words like “Harvard Professor” in an effort to negatively portray Elizabeth Brown as elitist. I can see something like this possibly working in the mid-west (where I grew up), but Massachusetts? Having never been to Massachusetts I can’t say this with any certainty, but my impression is that in Massachusetts being a highly educated Professor (Harvard no less) would be seen as a good thing, not something to fear. I don’t know, I just never pictured Massachusetts as the land of red-necks. Am I wrong?

  6. Here's a link to an interview he did on this:

    http://www.necn.com/02/15/12/Scott-Brown-I-support-a-conscience-exemp/landing_politics.html?blockID=651910&feedID=4212

    He really is sickening here. Although I would usually say that questions about their personal life should be off limits, but I would love to have Mr two kids asked if he and his wife used birth control. Do they think only people as wealthy as he – or with insurance as good as theirs should be able to control the size of their families.

    In addition, his invoking Ted Kennedy is really nauseating – and I hope that Vicki of Kerry, both of whom really knew Kennedy, call him on that. The fact is that even before the compromise there was a provision for churches – and the accomodation expanded that.

  7. stupid just got stupider.

    OK. Now can we say it? Scott Brown is no moderate and standing in the shadow of Blount, he is no independent either. he is also just sharp enough to win elections and that is it.

    “One of our most fundamental rights as a people is the freedom of religion. It was right here in Plymouth, Massachusetts that pilgrims from Europe established a colony because of religious persecution at home.”

    First, as you point out, this has nothing to do with the First Amendment. If it did, Brown would know that the pilgrims eventually came here to escape religious persecution at home – persecution from whom Brown might ask (but doesn’t) – why from the Church of England that’s who.

    “Now, it is Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren who has assumed the mantle of oppressor. She and her allies on the left are dictating to Catholics and other people of faith that they must do as they are told when it comes to health care or face the consequences, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.”

    The only dictating going on here is by a bunch of papist nutters in pointy hads and the crackpot fringe. which is the mainstream of the republican party. And what about the personal beliefs of Ms. Warren and her allies on the left? Well, they don’t count because Brown says they don’t.
    The real hoot here is that Brown calls a woman who has an opinion on contraception an oppressor.

    Next, the usual malarkey about evil Obama, then a reminder of the last woman he kicked the crap out of (Scott, she is not running this time. Just sayin.)

    “Religious liberty is at the core of our nation’s founding, and we in Massachusetts know that better than anyone. It is has helped make us a strong and diverse nation. We must continue to cherish it and fight back against those who would chip away at it.”

    Closing with more blather about a non-issue and a celebration what diverisity might look like in a papist state. Awesome

  8. I wish I could ad something useful to this discussion. Unfortunately, anything I say that could accurately reflect the depth of my opinion of the junior senator’s latest move would likely get me hauled off by the feds.

    I hope Elizabeth beats him senseless…at the debates and at the polls, that is.

  9. Warren's mailing

    Like many of you, I was shocked to learn that Senator Scott Brown is supporting the Blunt amendment — a dangerous measure being pushed by Senate Republicans that would allow insurance companies and employers to deny health care coverage to anyone for any reason, just when people need it most.

    I was even more shocked Senator Brown emailed his supporters just a couple hours ago attacking me personally — and basically everyone who opposes this radical bill — claiming that I had assumed “the mantle of oppressor.”

    Let me be clear: I support President Obama’s solution to make sure that religious institutions are not forced to cover contraception but that women can get the health care they need. This new bill that Scott Brown is supporting is not about religious institutions — it’s about something very different. It would allow any employer or insurance company to refuse to cover any person for any treatment. Not only is it an attack on women’s ability to get the vital health care we need, it is an attack on every one of us.

    Think about what this will mean to you and your family. Are you pregnant? Elderly? Disabled? Do you have a chronic problem like diabetes or heart disease? Do you go for routine screening tests or rely on daily medications? Any medical test, treatment or prescription your boss or HMO doesn’t want to pay for could suddenly become morally objectionable — and under this amendment, your employer or insurance company would not have pay for it. You would lose your health care coverage.

    Is this Scott Brown’s idea of standing by the middle class? Is this what he means when he says he wants to make this the “People’s Seat?” He wants to help families by letting employers and insurance companies take away health care coverage?

    Tell Scott Brown that you want your United States Senator to stand up for the middle class and protect health care. Call his Senate office at (202) 224-4543 or (617) 565-3170 — and tell him you disagree with the Blunt amendment. Then ask your friends on email, Facebook, and Twitter to call Scott Brown, too.

    This election is about whose side you’re on.

    The economics around health care are huge for families. Skyrocketing costs have been a big factor in the financial squeeze facing middle-class families.

    Despite all that, Scott Brown wants to give even more power to corporations and insurance companies to deny basic health care coverage and undermine a fundamental principle of the Affordable Care Act — namely that everyone in this country deserves a basic standard of health care coverage.

    Right now, while Scott Brown is fighting to eliminate health care reform, I’m fighting for families to keep that coverage. I’ll fight for it now, and you can be sure I’ll keep right on fighting for families in the Senate.

    Call Scott Brown’s Senate office at (202) 224-4543 or (617) 565-3170 and tell him to stand up for middle class families. Then forward this email to your friends and ask them to call, too.

    Massachusetts families deserve better — and they need health care. Stand with me and join this fight.

    Thank you for being a part of this,

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Thu 21 Aug 10:04 AM