Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Victory at Appeals Court<p> Today the federal U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled against the government in&nbsp;<a href=""><em>Halbig v. Burwell</em></a>. The three-judge panel sided with the law&#39;s challengers, who argued that the IRS does not have the authority to extend ObamaCare&#39;s subsidies to states that did not establish an ObamaCare exchange. In other words, the Court ruled to uphold ObamaCare as written. The text of the law specifies that only state-established exchanges (as opposed to federally-established exchanges) can disburse subsidies and tax-credits to certain middle- and low-income customers.</p> <p> Perhaps even more significant, this case could ultimately disrupt not only ObamaCare&#39;s subsidies, but the enforcement of the law&#39;s individual mandate and employer mandate. This case has the potential to undo major portions of ObamaCare in 36 states - the states that did not opt to establish their own ObamaCare exchange. Needless to say, this case poses a serious threat to ObamaCare.</p> <p> <em>Halbig</em>&nbsp;has been widely debated from the beginning, with supporters such as The Cato&#39;s Institute&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="">Michael Cannon</a>&nbsp;and Case Western professor&nbsp;<a href="">Jonathan Adler</a>&nbsp;and many naysayers including Washington and Lee&#39;s&nbsp;<a href=";utm_source=AltURL&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=am?AllowView=VXQ0UnpwZTVEUFdhL1I3TkErT1lBajNja0U4VURPZFpFQjBKQWc9PQ==&amp;mh">Timothy Jost.</a></p> <p> In today&#39;s ruling, federal Judges Thomas B. Griffith and A. Raymond Randolph ruled with the plaintiffs, and Judge Harry T. Edwards dissented. The next step will almost undoubtedly be an appeal from the government to the full circuit, meaning other judges who sit in the federal Court of Appeals in D.C. would cast a vote in the case. From there, the case would head to the Supreme Court. Today&#39;s ruling at the appellate level was a huge blow to ObamaCare.&nbsp;</p> <p> <em>This blog is cross-posted at Visit <a href="">Health Care Lawsuits</a> to learn more about this case and others, including King v. Burwell, a similar case that received a less-favorable ruling in the Fourth Circuit today.</em></p> HeathTue, 22 Jul 2014 10:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumObamaCare affects both our health insurance and medical systems • NRA News Freedom Fest HeathFri, 18 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHouse to vote on challenging President Obama's executive actions • OANN Rick Amato Show HeathWed, 16 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMore restaurants blaming phone use for long waits • Cavuto HeathTue, 15 Jul 2014 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRent Too High: Foreign investors buying blitz • Cavuto HeathTue, 15 Jul 2014 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBig Immigration Backfire: Democrats admit immigration isn't a winning issue • Cavuto HeathTue, 15 Jul 2014 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumObamacare Gives Women Less Control Over Their Health Care<p> In the wake of the Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the term &ldquo;women&rsquo;s health&rdquo; has been used repeatedly in reference to one issue alone: reproduction. Sadly, the conversation surrounding women, health care, and &ldquo;women&rsquo;s rights&rdquo; commonly gets reduced this way. Of course, women care deeply about reproductive health, but our interest in the health care system goes much further.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s why I joined Accuracy in Academia to teach&nbsp;<a href="">a short video-class on women&rsquo;s interests in health care policy</a>.</p> <p> Like men, women are tired of watching our hard-earned dollars disappear into an inefficient and bloated health care payment system. Over the second half of the twentieth century, women joined the work force in mass numbers, meaning more women accessed employer-sponsored health insurance plans of our own.</p> <p> While many women may enjoy a health benefit at work, the recent decision in&nbsp;<em>Burwell v. Hobby Lobby</em>&nbsp;highlights one problem with employer-centric health care: Decisions that are better left to individuals must be made in office-based groups, often among people with significant differences in their health care needs and their moral values. Getting rid of the employer-centric nature of our health care system &ndash; and instead encouraging individuals to purchase health insurance like we do car insurance or homeowner&rsquo;s insurance &ndash; would be a first step to correcting this flaw in our health care system, and would also encourage greater efficiency and provide more choice and control for women.</p> <p> Sadly, Obamacare failed to address the longstanding tax disadvantage that individuals face when they try to buy insurance on their own. In fact, the employer mandates in the law only reinforce the employer-centric nature of our health system; this system affects more not just birth control decisions, but all of our health care decisions.</p> <p> Americans instinctively know that this is wrong.&nbsp; Overwhelmingly, the public agrees that women should be free to make their own health decisions, without interferences from employers or the state. In the private sector, two out of every three health care dollars are spent by women, often because we are making health care and health insurance decisions on behalf of dependent children or aging parents.&nbsp; And across nearly every age group, women utilize the health care system more than men.&nbsp; This is partly because of how our bodies work &ndash; we bear children and there are costs associated with that. And this is partly because of behaviors: Women are more likely than men to seek preventative care.</p> <p> Therefore, women have a particular interest in a flexible health care marketplace, but Obamacare&rsquo;s many new layers of regulations and mandates&mdash;many of which were sold as chiefly benefiting women&mdash;having sacrificed such dynamism and created significant new costs as a result.&nbsp; For example, Obamacare promised to &ldquo;equalize&rdquo; the premiums of men and women by regulating that insurance companies charge men and women (of similar ages) the same premium. That may sound like a good deal for women, but in practice women generally haven&rsquo;t seen premium decreases.</p> <p> Women in my age group have seen premiums rise for the low-cost plans that young adults prefer. According to&nbsp;<a href="">a study from the American Action Forum</a>, the average 30-year-old woman has seen a 193 percent increase in her premium while the average 30-year-old man has seen an increase of 270 percent. What good is it to women if men&rsquo;s premiums triple and ours &ldquo;only&rdquo; double?</p> <p> Another Obamacare promise to women is that their preventative care (including birth control) would be covered from the first dollar. This means insurance companies aren&rsquo;t allowed to require co-pays or cost-sharing for these services. While seemingly &ldquo;free&rdquo; health care services may be attractive, this provision deserves a second look. This approach doesn&rsquo;t really reduce health costs, to women or to anyone else. Instead, it forces all consumers to pay for these services through their higher health insurance premiums.&nbsp; We still pay for our doctor&rsquo;s visit and our birth control; we just do so through higher premiums, instead of co-pays that reflect consumption.</p> <p> Importantly, we pay for this mandate not just in higher costs, but in less choice and innovation.&nbsp;<a href="">Drug companies</a>&nbsp;may be the real beneficiaries of the contraception mandate, because if third-party payers cover the costs, there&rsquo;s no incentive for drug companies to keep prices for birth control low or to develop new products that might not be covered by the mandate. That disincentive really hurts women who do have to pay directly, if they are still uninsured. (This &ldquo;third-party-payer problem&rdquo; is the same reason room service is so expensive at hotels that mainly serve a corporate clientele.)</p> <p> Moving forward, the goal of health reform should be to make insurance products more diverse, more affordable, and more competitive. &nbsp;This would mean removing coverage mandates and equalizing the tax treatment of employer and individual insurance plans.&nbsp; Women, who have diverse needs and preferences at all levels of health care, would benefit from more consumer choice, which would only result from removing these government distortions.</p> <p> Women care about so much more than &ldquo;free&rdquo; birth control or abortion.&nbsp; We care about participating as powerful consumers in a robust health marketplace. So far, we haven&rsquo;t seen the right reforms to get us there, but we can continue to work toward a health system that works better for us all.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathMon, 14 Jul 2014 12:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLeave the Bosses Out of It<p> The Supreme Court ruled recently in the Hobby Lobby case that &quot;closely-held&quot; corporations with religious objections will be exempt from a government requirement to provide coverage for all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives. While the narrow ruling represents a victory for conservatives, it doesn&rsquo;t address deeper tensions that remain in our health care system.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s no surprise, given America&rsquo;s large and diverse population, that many disagree about the morality of certain health care treatments. These conflicts would be limited if individuals were allowed to make choices based on their own conscience. However, public policy has placed employers squarely in the middle of the system, making different preferences and moralities come in conflict.</p> <p> Defenders of the mandate seem blind to government&rsquo;s role in causing these tensions. Many pro-Obamacare protesters at the Supreme Court carried signs that said &ldquo;Not my Boss&rsquo;s Business&rdquo; in reference to birth control. Unfortunately for most people, their health insurance coverage is their boss&rsquo;s business, given America&rsquo;s long history with tax advantages for employer-sponsored health insurance.</p> <p> We should have worked long ago to change that by making it easier for individuals to purchase insurance on their own rather than to favor employer-based coverage. But, instead, in 2010, Obamacare became law and doubled down on the employer-centric system with mandates like the one challenged by Hobby Lobby.</p> <p> Yes, the contraception mandate is troublesome because it raises religious and moral questions. But there are other, less-controversial matters that similarly would be better left to individuals to decide. Why should your boss influence what type of plan you have, what deductible you might pay or what treatments are included for coverage?</p> <p> The Supreme Court case exempted some closely-held corporations from the mandate to require all types of FDA-approved contraceptives. This is good, but a better policy would be for Congress to repeal the employer mandate altogether.</p> <p> Better yet, Congress could disconnect health insurance from employment by working to equalize the tax treatment of employer-sponsored and individually purchased insurance plans. This would truly remove bosses from decisions about what should be included in health insurance.</p> <p> Government interference has also muddied the definition of health insurance, to the detriment of affordability and efficiency. Congress and state governments could work against this trend by removing coverage mandates.</p> <p> &ldquo;Insurance&rdquo; according to Merriam-Webster&rsquo;s is &ldquo;an agreement in which a person makes regular payments to a company and the company promises to pay money if the person is injured or dies, or to pay money equal to the value of something (such as a house or car) if it is damaged, lost, or stolen.&rdquo; Insurance is something we buy to protect us when something goes terribly wrong. Unfortunately, this is not true for health insurance in the United States.</p> <p> Expected expenses, like routine checkups and contraceptives, are not surprise events that require insurance. No, this is the equivalent of insuring a car to cover gasoline fill-ups and oil changes.</p> <p> Many mistakenly support mandating these routine health care treatments, like birth control, for health insurance coverage, believing that doing so makes such services cheaper. Yet contrary to popular fiction, using a third party to pay such costs doesn&rsquo;t make health care more affordable, but less affordable. It discourages consumers from seeking efficient products and services and allows providers to jack up prices, and we all pay more as a result.</p> <p> Americans want greater access to health care and greater individual choice in private health care decisions based on their own beliefs. Part of the solution is to refocus on the very concept of what insurance was supposed to do &mdash; to help people shoulder the costs of unexpected health care needs &mdash; and to take employers out of the equation.</p> <p> Giving people plenteous options in a private, free market would be the best way to make health insurance accessible and affordable. And as an added bonus, this would avoid culture clashes like the one we&rsquo;ve seen in the Hobby Lobby case.&nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath Manning is the director of health policy at the Independent Women&#39;s Forum ( Twitter: @HadleyHeath</em></p> HeathTue, 8 Jul 2014 15:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumReligious Freedom and Women's Access to Contraceptives Preserved<p> The U.S. Supreme Court&#39;s decision in&nbsp;<em>Burwell v. Hobby Lobby</em>&nbsp;is a victory &mdash; however qualified &mdash; for conscience rights, especially for individuals who choose to organize themselves as profit-seeking corporations. Contrary to much political rhetoric, the ruling leaves women&#39;s rights perfectly intact, and the real-world effect on the availability and financing of various contraceptives will be minimal.</p> <p> In&nbsp;<em>Hobby Lobby</em>, importantly, the court focused solely on a federal statute, and decided that the mandate violated the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Future cases may deal with the still-open issue of corporate personhood with regard to the First Amendment, but because the court in&nbsp;<em>Hobby Lobby</em>&nbsp;dealt with the application of the RFRA, the First Amendment question was not addressed.</p> <p> The government did itself no favors focusing on the potential for &quot;divisive, polarizing proxy battles over the religious identity of large, publicly traded corporations such as IBM or General Electric.&quot; The court easily sidestepped this concern by narrowing its decision to closely held corporations whose religious identities are easy to ascertain. In the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, reasonably, that publicly traded corporations would be unlikely to bring a RFRA claim for practical reasons.</p> <p> Furthermore, the government &shy;clearly recognized that groups of people can exercise religious beliefs when the government extends accommodations to not-for-profit corporations. The court could not, and did not, find any reason that a for-profit company would be categorized or treated differently under the RFRA.</p> <p> The court ruled that the government failed to demonstrate that the mandate was the least restrictive means of achieving its public health goal, and the issue of &quot;accommodation&quot; was central to the ruling: Among other means, the Department of Health and Human Services could simply extend this accommodation to employers like Hobby Lobby so that female employees could still obtain no-copay coverage through a third-party (insurance company).</p> <p> Contrary to the fear-mongering of women&#39;s rights groups on the political left, the ruling means women&#39;s access to birth control can remain completely unchanged. The overwhelming majority of women do not seek or obtain contraceptive coverage from employers with religious objections. Eighty-five percent of large employers offered contraceptive coverage before the Affordable Care Act, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and presumably this figure has increased because of the mandate.</p> <p> Very few will choose the path Hobby Lobby has taken, and even then the government can easily extend accommodations or special programs to affected workers. This ruling is a win for religious liberty, with no significant losses for those on the other side of the debate.</p> <p> <em>Hadley Heath is director of health policy at Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a conservative nonprofit focused on women&rsquo;s issues.</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathMon, 7 Jul 2014 14:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHobby Lobby case about more than contraception; ruling is about religious freedom • KMED Bill Meyer Show HeathWed, 2 Jul 2014 08:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHobby Lobby Prevails with Narrow Decision Handed Down by the High Court • CBS Radio KXST Live & Local with Kevin Wall HeathTue, 1 Jul 2014 19:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHigh Court's HHS Mandate Ruling Draws Strong Reactions • NPR News Morning Edition<p> Hadley Heath Manning, IWF&#39;s health policy director, spoke with <a href=";t=1&amp;islist=false&amp;id=327199070&amp;m=327199071&amp;live=1">NRP News coorespondent Jennifer Ludden for NPR&#39;s Morning Edition</a> about the Supreme Court&#39;s decision in the cases of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.&nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 1 Jul 2014 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHobby Lobby and SCOTUS’ Women Justices<p> Hobby Lobby, the arts-and-crafts giant who challenged Obamacare&rsquo;s mandate to provide coverage for all forms of contraception, won at the Supreme Court yesterday in a 5-4 vote. No surprise: The five justices on the majority side were all male, and the Court&rsquo;s three women&nbsp;justices (along with Justice&nbsp;Breyer) sided with the government.</p> <div> <p> Too many reports and comments today have included this fact as though it is only to be expected that women would favor the birth-control mandate, which has been portrayed as central for women&rsquo;s health.&nbsp; Any opposition to it, sadly, has been and will be demagouged as a &ldquo;war on women.&rdquo;</p> <p> But the truth is that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor are driven by a big-government ideology, not their sex.&nbsp;Women in the United States have diverse views on the size and role of government &mdash; including whether government should force religious employers to cover contraception for their employees.&nbsp;The media shouldn&rsquo;t assume that this sample of three women represents us all.</p> <p> Gallup polling from 2009 shows 37 percent of women identify as conservative, while 23 percent say they are liberal. This is a smaller margin than for men (44 percent vs. 20 percent), but still serves to show that not all women see the world like the female justices, who were all appointed by Democrats (two by President Obama).</p> <p> Abortion is a divisive issue too: Although it is sometimes depicted as a women&rsquo;s issue or even a women&rsquo;s right, American women are divided on the issue. According to Gallup, 47 percent of women self-identify as pro-choice and 46 percent say they are pro-life.</p> <p> Planned Parenthood and other pro-government organizations conducted polling specifically on the Hobby Lobby case and found that 68 percent of women disagreed with the arts-and-crafts retailer.&nbsp;This was no surprise given the degree to which the case has been misrepresented by left-leaning women&rsquo;s organizations and abortion groups.</p> <p> The National Organization for Women mischaracterized the intention of those challening the mandate as &ldquo;bigotry toward women&rdquo; and an attempt to &ldquo;block women&rsquo;s access to safe and effective contraception.&rdquo;&nbsp; If that were what the case was truly about, then naturally many women would be upset. A strong majority says birth control is morally acceptable.</p> <p> However, the Hobby Lobby case had little to do with abortion, or even birth control. This was a case about government coercion.</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s keep in mind who was doing the coercing here: Hobby Lobby is not attempting to block women from using the contraceptive methods of their choice, from participating in other activities that the owners find morally objectionable, or even from seeking an abortion. They aren&rsquo;t attempting to regulate women&rsquo;s behavior &mdash; they have absolutely no ability to do so.&nbsp;Hobby Lobby simply refused to use company resources to fund coverage for certain drugs. It&rsquo;s the government who was attempting to coerce the business owners to act against their will.</p> <p> Notably, even according to Planned Parenthood&rsquo;s polling data, nearly one third of women have seen through the hazy misinformation and side<em>&nbsp;with&nbsp;</em>Hobby Lobby.&nbsp; In other polling data (not gender specific), 59 percent of likely voters oppose the mandate.</p> <p> There are many religious, pro-life, and conservative women&rsquo;s organizations that filed amicus briefs arguing against the contraceptive mandate, and many of their protesters were present at the Supreme Court this morning.</p> <p> Ironically, the pro-government protesters carried signs that said, &ldquo;Birth control: Not my boss&rsquo;s business.&rdquo; This slogan is enough to inspire support for Hobby Lobby, who was asking to&nbsp;<em>not&nbsp;</em>be party to women&rsquo;s decision to use emergency contraception.</p> <p> There are also women who sided with Hobby Lobby, not because they share the company&rsquo;s convictions on Christianity, birth control, or abortion, but simply because we recognize that in America, no one should be forced to violate his or her religious conscience to pay for someone else&rsquo;s choices. That&rsquo;s the case with&nbsp;<a href="">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum&rsquo;s amicus brief.</a></p> <p> Some SCOTUS watchers believed that the women of the Court sided with the government because they are empathetic to the women who work for Hobby Lobby.&nbsp; But of course,&nbsp;it&rsquo;s possible to empathize with women who are facing financial stress over their birth-control costs without condoning the contraception mandate.</p> <p> As the majority wrote in their opinion, there are less-freedom-restricting policies that Congress could have enacted that would have assisted these female workers &mdash; like a tax-credit for birth control expenses or a public-health program funded by taxes &mdash; without burdening the employer. This is significant because the legal hurdle the government failed to satisfy was to show that no alternative, less-freedom-restrictive policies could have helped the government reach its goal.</p> <p> The media will likely continue to parrot the idea that the real issue at stake in this case is women&rsquo;s health, and it&rsquo;s only natural that the women justices sided with the government.&nbsp; But millions of American women who value the freedom of conscience and truly want their employers out of their birth control decisions know otherwise.&nbsp;We know that&nbsp;<em>Burwell v. Hobby Lobby</em>&nbsp;was about the limits of government&rsquo;s power &mdash; and that&rsquo;s a principle that all women (and men) should be glad to see the Supreme Court uphold.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Hadley Heath&nbsp;is a senior policy analyst at the&nbsp;<a href="">Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</a>.</em></p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 1 Jul 2014 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCreative Destruction: Uber to connect users to helicopters • Cavuto HeathTue, 1 Jul 2014 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTech Companies Seeing Hit: Germany dropping Verizon contract over spying fears • Cavuto HeathTue, 1 Jul 2014 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum