Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Keith Fimian Example of Abortion Agenda Taking Priority Over Health Care Reform

While there is most definitely a lot of reasons to be celebrating the passage of HR 3962 (the health care reform bill), there have been some special interest groups that have been lobbying hard to turn this bill into a momentum builder for those who are anti-choice. Unfortunately, with the passage of the Stupak amendment, these groups have succeed in creating a slight shift in the discussion towards restricting a woman’s right to choose and away from talking about the need to protect the lives of those who have already been born. Apparently the Stupak amendment has given anti-choice advocates the feeling of so much momentum that there are some US Senators who have also been listening to these special interest groups and are considering caving into the anti-choice groups by introducing a similar measure in the Senate.

What’s extremely important to note here is that even before the Stupak amendment passed, no federal money could go towards the funding of an abortion. The Hyde Amendment took care of doing that over 30 years ago and HR 3962 would have done absolutely nothing to overturn that precedent. In other words, there was no need to add the Stupak amendment to the legislation unless you wanted to even further restrict a woman’s right to privacy when it comes to her body.

Nonetheless, we shouldn't be too surprised at these tactics because this isn’t the first time social conservatives have tried to use health care in order to impose their beliefs on other people. Back in 2008, for instance, I wrote a piece about how tea-party activist (and Congressional candidate) Keith Fimian did this with his own employees by adding an addendum to the health insurance plan they received which stated they couldn’t get a certain legal medical procedure covered EVEN WHEN THE LIFE OF THE MOTHER WAS AT RISK.
In the health care plan offered to employees from the mid 1990's to about 2003 of US Inspect and InVision Technologies (the companies that Keith Fimian was CEO and Chairman of), it explicitly says that “oral contraceptive[s] used for birth control” were not covered. This is despite the fact that over twenty states have laws that basically say oral contraceptives have to be covered if the plan covers other prescriptions or outpatient procedures.

Looking through the policy I also found an addendum that informed employees abortions would not be covered, “including those performed when the covered person’s health is in permanent jeopardy.” This was sent out in an addendum in order to overturn the original policy which means that this wasn’t just an oversight but that the leadership took direct action to make sure a potentially life-saving operation wasn’t covered. Under Fimian’s leadership, in other words, the health insurance his employees received would not cover a certain operation even if their life was at risk. Not including abortions as a means of birth control would be understandable, but this type of leadership goes well beyond simply being anti-choice.
In addition to not providing coverage for a potentially life-saving operation, Keith Fimian also recently suggested that the way to reform health care is by telling people not to go to the doctor when they have “the sniffles.” Not only does this show his ignorance about the real reason health care costs have be rapidly increasing, but that type of thinking is what has allowed us to get into the situation we’re currently facing. Unfortunately, there are many Members of Congress who are currently listening to Fimian and his fellow teabaggers and decide to focus on extremism instead of producing real results.

As we move forward in the health care debate and the 2010 elections, it’s extremely important to remember what teabaggers like Fimian are saying. Fimian's ignorant comments and extremist behavior illustrates how teabaggers essentially want Congress to focus on divisiveness instead of figuring out how to pass legislation that will help millions of Americans obtain access to affordable health care. That might help them get a few of their fellow extremists to compare health care reform to Nazi death camps or claim that health care is worse than terrorism, but it isn't an effective way to govern. The Republican Party doesn't appear to understand this, however, as it now looks like tea party activist Keith Fimian is going to be the Republican nominee for Congress next year from Virginia's 11th District.

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