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GOP Contraceptive Amendment Could Have Wider Effect; The Love Of Caregiving

Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Mother Jones: The GOP Plan To Give Your Boss ‘Moral’ Control Over Your Health Insurance
In their latest move in the battle over contraception coverage, top Republicans in Congress are going for broke: They’re now pushing a bill that would allow employers and insurance companies to pick and choose which health benefits to provide based simply on executives’ personal moral beliefs. … Last week, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) offered a “conscience amendment,” to the law, pitching it as a way to allay religious employers’ qualms about providing birth control to their employees. But Blunt’s proposal doesn’t just apply to religious employers and birth control. Instead, it would allow any insurer or employer, religiously affiliated or otherwise, to opt out of providing any health care services required by federal law—everything from maternity care to screening for diabetes. Employers wouldn’t have to cite religious reasons for their decision; they could just say the treatment goes against their moral convictions (Adam Serwer, 2/14).

The Washington Post Magazine: First Person Singular: Reina Vasquez, 50, Woodbridge, Home Health Care Provider
I was with one lady for 10 years. You see a lot happen to someone in 10 years, big changes and small things that only you notice at first, until that person doesn’t look like herself anymore. She had been a lieutenant colonel, very high up, very respected, and when I started she was still in charge. She still was running her life. But the longer I was with her, the more I did. I cried and cried at her funeral. … After she died, I said, “No more.” This is just too hard. It hurt too much.  … (Then), I had to start doing home health care again; it’s what I know best. It’s where my heart is. … I am trying not to get too close. I do my job, but it is not easy to not care too much, you know? My job is to care (Amanda Long, 2/9).

Huffington Post: Relationships, Menopause, And Health
Who you spend time with and the quality of your relationships not only says a lot about who you are as a person, but it has a tremendous impact on your health. A now classic study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that — even after controlling for risk factors like smoking, poverty low socio-economic status, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and obesity — lack of social relationships, personality dispositions, and acute stress, including the stress of racism were better predictors for increased risk of death and disease. Other studies have shown that you are more likely to be overweight (and suffer from all of the resulting health consequences) if your friends are overweight than if your parents are overweight. And we are now learning that when you join together in community to lose weight and heal you are far more likely to succeed (Dr. Mark Hyman, 2/15).

Governing: Obama’s Budget Could Shift Medicaid Costs To States
As Medicaid costs escalate and states prepare for further implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Barack Obama sought to address both of those areas of concern in his fiscal year 2013 budget, released Monday. According to the White House’s budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Obama’s proposal would save nearly $360 in Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years: $56 billion would come through Medicaid reforms. Those reforms, though, could result in greater costs to states, policy analysts say (Dylan Scott, 2/13).

Slate: The Secret of American Health Care: Surprise! It’s Already Socialized
The furor over Donald Berwick reflects a broader, fundamental disagreement over the nature of health insurance. Should it be “social” insurance, with which financial risk is leveled between those who are ill and healthy, so the carefree twentysomething and diabetic elderly man pay equally into the system? Or would it be better structured as “actuarial” insurance, where those expected to consume more shell out more, just as those who drive flashy, expensive cars or rack up speeding tickets pay higher auto insurance rates? … This dispute is central to continuing political wrangling over the 2010 health reform legislation, the main provisions of which are scheduled to take effect in a few years. But Americans made their choice clear long before Barack Obama ever signed the law—and they picked social insurance (Darshak Sanghavi, 1/31).