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Will the Maine Twins Defect on the HHS Mandate? (Where do Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins Stand?)
National Review ^ | 02/17/2012 | By Brian Bolduc

Posted on 02/17/2012 6:31:46 AM PST by SeekAndFind

On Monday, Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine seemingly surrendered to President Obama on the contraception mandate, before the fight had begun.

“It appears that changes have been made that provide women’s health services without compelling Catholic organizations in particular to violate the beliefs and tenets of their faith,” Snowe said.

Collins made a similar statement: “While I will carefully review the details of the president’s revised proposal, it appears to be a step in the right direction.”

But there may be more fight in them yet. Although the senators support forcing insurance companies to cover contraception, they also seem open to an expansive religious-liberty exemption.

Since her early days in the Senate, Snowe has championed a contraception mandate. In May 1997, she introduced the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. The bill would have required insurance companies that covered prescription drugs and devices to cover contraception as well. (Collins was a co-sponsor.)

Snowe based her case on cost-effectiveness and equity. Testifying before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee in July 1998, Snowe argued, “With EPICC, prescription contraceptives will be covered like all prescription drugs, meaning a lot more Americans using birth control and a lot less abortions being performed. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?”

She lamented that “women spend 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health-care cost” because of their purchase of birth control. Moreover, insurance companies’ decision to cover Viagra, but not birth control, seemed unfair. “Why the difference in coverage?” Snowe asked. “It certainly can’t be cost. Even those insurance companies who have reduced their coverage to six pills per month still shell out $60 a month for Viagra, more than half the average cost at $25 for the pill each month.”

Snowe was unsuccessful in her efforts to impose the mandate on private employers. But in July 1999, the Senate unanimously approved an amendment offered by Snowe and Reid that forced insurance plans for federal employees to cover contraceptives.

“The federal government serves as a role model for other employers across the nation and this step sends a signal to insurers nationwide: Prescription-contraceptive coverage is a long-overdue provision for health plans for all women of reproductive age,” Snowe said in a press release.

Snowe kept at the contraception-mandate fight, reintroducing the bill in 2001, 2005, and 2008. As the Portland Press Herald reports, “There was no religious exemption in that bill as written, but Snowe indicated at the time that she would address that issue and a Collins spokesman says that Collins too favored a ‘conscience clause.’”

In 2006, Snowe even filed an amicus curiae brief in support of a class-action lawsuit by a group of female employees who sued their employer for not including contraception coverage in their health plans. “I believe the trial court was correct in ruling that failing to cover contraception under an employer-sponsored health-insurance plan runs afoul of the intent of Congress’s long-standing employment-discrimination laws, and I urge the Court of Appeals to uphold that ruling,” Snowe said.

In other words, Snowe and Collins don’t object to a contraception mandate per se. But in the past few days they have mentioned their qualms over the narrowness of the administration’s religious-liberty exemption.

“Senator Collins said the President’s announcement last week was a step in the right direction but that she wanted more information about its details,” writes her spokesman, Kevin Kelley, in an e-mail. “She has said that a very important issue is how the administration would treat self-insured institutions since there are many Catholic hospitals that are self-insured. She is concerned that she has not been able to get an answer from the administration on this important point.”

For her part, Snowe told the Portland Press Herald, “It shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, maintaining women’s health and religious liberty. . . . We haven’t seen the final language. I would like to look at it. I know there are some differences within the church so if the president can further address those that is always helpful.”

The two senators have signed on to Senator Marco Rubio’s bill, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would carve out a more generous religious-liberty exemption for religiously affiliated institutions.

“They’re well known as being pro-choice,” says Ken Lindell, chairman of the Maine Republican Liberty Caucus. “Everybody within the Republican party and the establishment and conservatives just accept that as something that they are. But this seems to push the envelope a little bit.”

Yes, the senators each have a 45 NARAL score, but they also both voted against Obamacare. Don’t look for them to oppose a contraception mandate, but in the fight for religious liberty, the Maine twins may just stay true.

— Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Maine
KEYWORDS: collins; hhsmandate; maine; snowe

1 posted on 02/17/2012 6:31:52 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t think the twin witches have much of a Catholic or Evangelical constituency up there.

And being the kind of leftwing RINO strumpets they are, their surrender to the blandishments of the left are no surprise.

But then a people deserves the kind of government they get and so these two speak reams about the majority of the Maine electorate.

2 posted on 02/17/2012 6:38:17 AM PST by ZULU (LIBERATE HAGIA SOPHIA!!!!!)
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To: SeekAndFind

These two dits have yet to read the First Amendment!

3 posted on 02/17/2012 6:38:36 AM PST by Don Corleone ("Oil the the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: SeekAndFind
This is why there are majority/minority leaders - to kick these flakes' arses & get them to tow the damn party line.

But unfortunately we have Mitch McConnell.

4 posted on 02/17/2012 6:40:05 AM PST by skeeter
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To: skeeter

People should have to pay for their own rubbers and woody pills.

5 posted on 02/17/2012 6:46:11 AM PST by shelterguy
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To: SeekAndFind
Snowe voted to allow Obamacare out of committee. She is the one that lifted the tent flap to allow the camel to stick his nose in.

We need to take out Pryor in AR etc. to make these two not needed anymore.

6 posted on 02/17/2012 6:47:01 AM PST by Sybeck1 (It's official, Mitt can't win in either Dixie or the Midwest.)
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How I despise the Lenin sisters! When are those old hags going to retire?

7 posted on 02/17/2012 6:47:27 AM PST by Astronaut
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To: shelterguy

Someone on the radio here compared it to getting free oil changes with an auto warranty.

8 posted on 02/17/2012 6:49:29 AM PST by skeeter
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To: SeekAndFind

Obviously, having 60 (or even 51) Republicans in the Senate is not enough.

We have to elect conservatives, which as everyone now knows is not the same as Republicans.

Throw out as many big government Republicans as possible in the primaries. It will take a few cycles but will make a big difference.

Back CINO challengers like Mourdock (over Lugar) in Indiana and Dan Liljenquist (over Hatch) in Utah. And back conservatives in open seats like Ted Cruz in Texas and Mike McCalister in Florida.

9 posted on 02/17/2012 6:57:03 AM PST by SharpRightTurn ( White, black, and red all over--America's affirmative action, metrosexual president.)
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To: Astronaut

When they dry up, turn to dust and blow away, like some Vampire in the sunlight.

Same for Nancy Hell-o-See, Barbara BoxAx and Dianne Frankenfeinstein.

10 posted on 02/17/2012 8:14:14 AM PST by ZULU (LIBERATE HAGIA SOPHIA!!!!!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Snowe and/or Collins defect? Never! They can always be counted upon to support Socialism, they’ll never defect from the cause.

11 posted on 02/17/2012 9:14:04 AM PST by Cyber Liberty ("If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." --Winston Churchill)
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