Viagra, Birth Control, and McCain

Filed in Gather Politics News Channel by on July 16, 2008 0 Comments

   

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/114647.php

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-carly10-2008jul10,0,228806.story

 

Carly Fiorina is one of John McCain’s chief surrogates, talking him up particularly to that key target group, women. But Fiorina, ousted as chief of Hewlett-Packard in 2005, is not above rounding the edges on straight talk.

On Monday, as she discussed healthcare, Fiorina veered from a discussion of Viagra — never a good idea for a campaign surrogate — and seemed to stake out a new stance for McCain.

“Let me give you a real, live example, which I’ve been hearing a lot about from women. There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won’t cover birth control medication. Those women would like a choice,” she said.

Now before we continue, you need to recognize who Carly Fiorina is and the basic idea of the McCain healthcare platform.

Carly Fiorina is the former head of Hewlett-Packard that oversaw the merger with Compaq.  During her tenure, market value of HP fell by 50%, profits fell, and the company had to cut thousands of jobs.  In fact, many accuse her of helping to lead the way for companies to send their high-tech jobs oversees.  In 2004, she told a group of U.S. congress people “There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore. We have to compete for jobs as a nation.”  This at a meeting where business executives were trying to prevent Congress from throwing up barriers that let companies send jobs oversees while demanding more U.S. tax dollars to for research (to be done overseas) and corporate tax breaks.

When the Board finally ousted her, stocks in HP immediately shot up 7%, and the company began a major turnaround. 

Meanwhile, McCain’s healthcare reform doesn’t really reform anything.  He wants to rely on marketplace competition to lower cost and provide more choices.  His plan boils down to “Here is $2,500 tax credit, now go buy your own insurance.”  The theory is that the insurance companies will fall over themselves competing for customers I guess.

So this is the background context in which Fiorina’s comments regarding Viagra/Birth control should be taken.  I don’t think there are many women that DON’T agree with her statement.  I know I personally have complained about the fact that many insurance companies cover fertility treatments and Viagra, but not birth control.  So if a woman wants to get pregnant, she can get all sorts of treatments covered by her insurance.  If she DOESN’T want to get pregnant, she’s paying out of pocket for her birth control.

So you can be sure this message was tailored to the Hillary Democrats as part of McCain’s effort to recruit those women to his cause.  Her message is clearly designed to attract independents and women who believe that women’s issues are important, and this is an example of a serious disparity in women’s health options that should be addressed.  There is just one problem.

McCain voted AGAINST bills that would have required insurance companies to cover prescription birth control in 2003 AND 2005.  This is an issue McCain actually had an opportunity to take a stand on, and he voted against it.

When asked about the discrepancy between Fiorina and his votes, McCain said he didn’t even REMEMBER those vote and that “It’s something that I had not thought much about,” he added.”

When pressed further by a reporter on his campaign bus McCain said, “I don’t know enough about it to give you an informed answer because I don’t recall the vote. … I don’t usually duck an issue, but I’ll try to get back to you.” McCain campaign spokesperson Brian Rogers said Fiorina was discussing McCain’s “vision for choice and competition in health insurance,” adding that McCain would open insurance markets “for greater variety and competition, allowing women to choose policies that fit their needs. An example is the choice for women to dump a policy that only covers Viagra for a policy that covers their real needs”

Of course, none of this actually helps anyone.  What about a woman who has insurance through her employer, and even with the tax credit couldn’t afford to buy insurance on her own? Or the woman who discovers that the only plans that cover birth control are the “premium” plans that actually cost more money?  We as a nation cover the prescription for a 70 year old man to get an erection, but we are going to make women jump through hoops to avoid getting pregnant?

This disparity points to two key flaws with McCain’s overall policy.  First, McCain doesn’t think women have a right to decide whether or not they should be pregnant.  Courting the religious right, McCain dumps birth control pills in the same catagory as abortion.  McCain also voted against having insurance companies include emergency contraception, given to rape victims in hospitals, under insurance plans. 

 Second, McCain holds firm to deregulation of EVERYTHING.  Deregulation is the magic word for McCain and the Republican party.  Because deregulation equals more profits for business.  If an insurance company knows it doesn’t have to cover birth control, then it knows it can charge a premium for policies that cover birth control because women would have no choice but to pay the premium or pay for their birth control out of pocket.  Just like how his other advisor, Phil Gramm, pushed for the deregulation of the banking industry.  Look how much good that has done the country…

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