Viewpoints: The Constitution And Birth Control; War On Wyden

The Washington Post: Overreach: Obamacare Vs. The Constitution
Give him points for cleverness. President Obama’s birth control "accommodation" was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless. It was nothing but an accounting trick that still forces Catholic (and other religious) institutions to provide medical insurance that guarantees free birth control, tubal ligation and morning-after abortifacients — all of which violate church doctrine on the sanctity of life (Charles Krauthammer, 2/16).

Politico: HHS Mandate Flouts Religious Freedom
There’s nothing more fundamental to American exceptionalism than our First Freedom — our freedom of religion. The Obama administration’s mandate that employers, including religious institutions, provide insurance coverage for abortion-producing drugs, sterilizations and contraception is a threat to this freedom (Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tony Perkins, 2/16).

National Journal: Birth-Control Blues
Obama's initial proposal on contraception coverage brought this simmering conflict to a boil. Backlash not only from Catholic bishops usually aligned with conservative social causes but liberal Catholic groups forced the administration last week to unveil a fallback position that required insurers, not the religious-affiliated employers themselves, to fund contraception. … Yet the administration’s ability to formulate a more widely acceptable alternative so quickly begs the question of why it didn’t choose Version 2.0 to start (Ronald Brownstein, 2/17).

Bloomberg: Republicans Are Unprotected On Contraception
But the firestorm may prove to be a political blessing. If the president had started on Jan. 20 with the compromise he eventually arrived at on Feb. 10, it would have been a one-day story for health-care policy wonks. Birth control would never have surfaced as a political issue. Instead contraception is now the elephant in the bedroom — the issue that no one in the Republican establishment wants to talk about because they know it’s a disaster for them (Jonathan Alter, 2/16).

The Wall Street Journal: The War On Wyden
Mr. Wyden is the Democrat who in December had the audacity to team up with House Republican Paul Ryan on a proposal to reform and strengthen Medicare — the entitlement that is pushing the country, and seniors, off a cliff. As bipartisan exercises go, this was big, thoughtful, promising. It was also a complete anathema to a Democratic establishment that is ideologically opposed to change, and cynically intent on using Mediscare to beat Republicans in 2012. Mr. Wyden, as a result, is taking a beating from his own (Kimberley A. Strassel, 2/17).

The Wall Street Journal: The Myth Of Runaway Health Spending
New data show that health spending over the past several years has been normalizing toward the rate of general inflation, rather than growing higher and higher, as had been the case almost continuously since the 1970s. This moderation in the growth rate of spending predates the national recession. And it puts the lie to the claim that we need government to put the brakes on an "out-of-control" health-care system (J.D. Kleinke, 2/17).

USA Today: Investing: Follow The Boomers And Buy Health Care Stocks
The aging of the 77 million Boomers is one reason that the health care sector has fared so well recently. The Standard & Poor's health care index has gained 12.9 percent the past 12 months, vs. 2.7 percent for the S&P 500 with dividends reinvested. But there are other reasons to be bullish on health care, too, ranging from dividend payouts to mergers and acquisitions to the Affordable Care Act (John Waggoner, 2/16).

Chicago Tribune: Ultra-Creepy New Ultrasound Laws Are The Shame Of The Ultra-Right
The party that claims to champion small government is at it again. This month Republican majorities in both chambers in Virginia's Legislature passed one of the strictest mandatory pre-abortion ultrasound bills in the nation — a measure that's certain to require women seeking early-stage abortions to submit to being vaginally penetrated by a condom-covered electronic probe before the abortion is allowed to proceed (Eric Zorn, 2/17).

Politico: Framers' Own Words Condemn Health Care Reform
The Framers sought a careful balance between a government strong enough to last but limited enough to avert a return to tyranny. … Thus, if the health care law does not fall within the construct of the Constitution, the Framers could not have supported it. In terms of its constitutionality, the health care law’s most problematic provision is the individual mandate. Legal scholars and judges — including district court judges who upheld the law — agree that the constitutionality of the mandate depends on whether it falls within the scope of the Commerce Clause (Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., 2/16).

The New York Times: Moochers Against Welfare
Now, there's no mystery about red-state reliance on government programs. These states are relatively poor, which means both that people have fewer sources of income other than safety-net programs and that more of them qualify for "means-tested" programs such as Medicaid (Paul Krugman, 2/16).

The Fiscal Times: What Those New Super Drugs Really Cost
The folks in the R&D departments at major drug companies and biotech start-ups spend lots of money doing a multitude of tasks. ... But never forget that many of those tasks have little to do with what it "costs" to develop a new drug, which is a metric more useful to companies trying to justify the high prices of their latest medicines than a society trying to figure out how it is going to afford them (Merrill Goozner, 2/16).

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Is State Overpaying Health Plans?
But the hearing -- and legislators' intelligent handling of the issue — is a strong, if overdue, step toward addressing accountability concerns about the $3.8 billion spent annually in the state to outsource public patients to private health plans. There's too much money at stake, and too little understanding of how the state pays the plans, to let that momentum flag (2/16).

The Detroit Free Press: MSU's Insurance Mandate Makes Healthy Sense
Michigan State University has been criticized for requiring newly admitted students to have health care insurance. MSU is not alone in this mandate. ... It serves to protect students and their families from large, sometimes catastrophically large, unexpected medical bills they can't afford (John J.H. Schwarz, 2/16).

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