The Santorum Anti-Contraception Mandate

Like a lot of folks, I’m eager to see how well the conservative pols at CPAC pivot from bellowing about the determination of the Obama administration to conduct a Dioletian Persecution of Christians to dealing with press questions about a modified contraception mandate that has been embraced by the head of the Catholic Health Association.

First reaction I’ve seen was from Ricky Santorum, and while it was no surprise he ain’t buying no compromise, his specific objection, via Sam Stein, is interesting:

Elaborating on why he opposed the revised version of the Obama contraception rule, [Santorum] explained that he didn’t believe insurance companies should cover contraception at all.

“This has nothing to do with access,” he said. “This is having someone pay for it, pay for something that shouldn’t be in an insurance plan anyway because it is not, really an insurable item. This is something that is affordable, available. You don’t need insurance for these types of relatively small expenditures. This is simply someone trying to impose their values on somebody else, with the arm of the government doing so. That should offend everybody, people of faith and no faith that the government could get on a roll that is that aggressive.”

Hmmm.

While it’s not entirely clear whether Ricky is proposing a government mandate to prohibit contraception coverage by private insurance companies, that would seem to follow his logic.

Now it’s true the drift of conservative health care thinking of late has been to frown on the very concept of health insurance, and favor instead systems where non-catastrophic health costs are covered out of pocket (like they were in the good old days of the 1950s). But on the other hand, a lot of conservatives also think preventive health care ought to be encouraged by everyone as much as possible. Given the ever-increasing role of pharmaceuticals in both preventive care and disease management these days, dismissing drug coverage because it’s not acute care or is “affordable” by Ricky’s estimation doesn’t make much sense. And if that’s what he thinks, he should probably not have voted for that Medicare Rx drug bill that’s now a regular talking point for his right-wing detractors.

Methinks Ricky is in danger of tying himself in knots on this subject. He’d better get his health-care and his culture-war advisors together for a chat.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.