One side says the bill clarifies a religious freedom issue for Missouri employers and workers in the face of an Obama administration edict about employer-provided health care insurance. The other side says it’s a useless piece of anti-woman legislation.
Senator John Lamping of St. Louis says the Affordable Care Act had the support of Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders until the January 20th announcement by the Obama administration that coverage of birth control services would be required in employers’ healthcare plans.
He says his bill is needed to clarify Missouri’s existing law that says employers cannot be forced to provide that coverage if it conflicts with their religious or moral standards.
But St. Louis Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal says if the protections already are on the books, there’s no need for Lamping’s bill. “If Missourians want a bill that does nothing, here you go, here’s a bill that does absolutely nothing,” she says.
Lamping says the bill does add sterilization to avoid pregnancy to the list of things healthcare plans do not have to cover. The bill does allow coverage for sterilization and contraception as medical treatments or procedures not connected with avoiding pregnancy.
He says the Affordable Healthcare Act and the January 20th announcement concentrate enormous and arbitrary power in the hands of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He says his bill is necessary to protect the state and its employers from the excessive use of that power.
Another favorable vote sends the bill to the House.