Monday, February 13, 2012

Quizzicals on religious liberty in practice…

Shall we?

This has been one heck of a hectic month. I’ve barely had time to explore the wild world of recently filed state legislation, but a certain SB749 filed in Missouri by Senator Lamping (R-24) was just too intriguing to ignore.

SB 749 looks like another in a long line of Missouri-based legislative confusion seeking to place state law over federal law – in this case, the bill seeks to deny Missourians certain benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

Yep, you guessed it…this mess came from the meltdown anti-contraception groups are still having over the recent HHS ruling that contraception will be covered without co-payment or deductible in insurance plans and the Obama Administration’s subsequent clarification that those business-esque churches religiously opposed to contraception would not have to offer coverage in their plans.

A recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial sums up this fight against access to contraception very well.

Anyhoo, I couldn’t help but wonder what inspired Senator Lamping to resurrect the state’s rights arguments and legislative tactics of the pro-segregation South in defiance of contraception coverage without co-payment.

Lamping’s bio says that he works as the blah blah blah for a major St. Louis-based securities brokerage firm and is very active in his community. He has served as a member of the Finance Board and as Parish Council President for St. Alphonsus Church and as the treasurer for Boys Hope Girls Hope of St. Louis. He is currently serving as the Endowment Chair for St. Louis University High School, is a member of the Stewardship Committee for Our Lady of the Pillar and is a member of the Endowment Committee for the St. Louis City Academy.

Um.

Pause…rewind…hit play.

What was that about St. Louis University High School?

Senator Lamping is currently serving as the Endowment Chair at SLU High…the same SLU High that was in the news a wee bit ago.

Mmmhmm, SLU High made the news because the Catholic high school offers insurance coverage to employees through Christian Brothers Services…and Christian Brothers Services is a “church plan”…so when two teachers working at SLU High tried to access coverage for autism services guaranteed through the new Missouri autism insurance coverage mandate they were denied.

Yes.

For real.

Way!

Denied coverage for autism services and treatment…in the name of religious liberty because of a religious exemption granted insurance designated as church plans.

And the choir asked… “What is the religious objection the Catholic Church has against insurance coverage for autism therapies and treatments?”

I am so glad y’all asked!

None.

I’ve not been able to find a single religious objection the Catholic Church has to autism or autism treatments and therapies.

Note to trolls preparing to comment about Lamping having children on the autism spectrum – I’m aware. As the sister and co-guardian of an adult with autism I make a point of knowing everyone under the dome involved in the autism community.

Where was I?

Oh yes!

I found some internet residue from Lamping’s campaign website proclaiming his support of the autism insurance mandate that passed prior to his run for office.

Pause…sip coffee…continue.

What I wasn’t able to find was any comment from Senator Lamping on the refusal of SLU High’s insurance plan to adhere to that autism insurance mandate or the church plan’s confusing use of a religious exemption for refusing a treatment that the Catholic Church appears to have no religious objection to.

Which takes me back to that Senate bill, the curious use of religious liberty in practice, and the quizzicals sparked by Senator Lamping’s leadership roles within Catholic institutions when examined along side his filing of legislation that would effectively shield those institutions from covering…well, anything they don’t want to.

If SB 749 were to become law in Missouri then you can bet your happy ass the same liberated religions that would refuse coverage for autism treatments would move to expand their…liberty…to all manner of things we call healthcare.

Trust that the list of things insurance plans would not cover would quickly be as extensive as the list of organizations currently praising their minion du jour Senator Lamping.

***tilts head***

Come, come now…this was never about religious liberty.

This is about money and power and the power of money.

Which brings me to my final quizzical.

If claiming religious liberty is the new slick business move to shield insurance plans from the financial hit of actually covering healthcare…

…does that mean Senate Bills are the new way to fast track indulgences?

Blink.

4 comments:

Hattie said...

Excellent analysis. Of course it's all about the money.

NancyP said...

It's all about the money.

ERISAs (employer-backed health insurance) used to be able to exclude any medical condition from their insurance plan, as long as they had not paid claims on that exact disease. A local Catholic educational institution's ERISA tried to deny claims for a very rare pediatric genetic metabolic disease on that basis. There was no reference to religious freedom, just a reliance on ERISA law.

I believe that ERISA law is pretty much the same today, though I am not a lawyer and don't know for sure.

NancyP said...

BTW, you probably meant "pro-segregation South" with regard to "state's rights". Sometimes typing fingers just go on autopilot.

Pamela Merritt said...

Thanks for the edit Nancy P - that's what happens when I start writing before finishing that 2nd cup of coffee.

Sigh.