Freedom of religion: The liberty of individual conscience

Wednesday’s vote in the House to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act is not the only path being taken to trample on women's rights.

A new bill from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) seeks to allow employers to discriminate against their employees in new and far-reaching ways. HR 6097 would mean that any employer that, for a religious or moral reason, refuses to comply with the law requiring insurance coverage of preventive services and medicines, including contraception, with no additional out-of-pocket cost would be exempted from all taxes and penalties. In short, company owners could impose their own religious beliefs on their employees and get away with it.


Changing society one tax at at ime

Last month, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act by defining the individual mandate as a tax. The ruling focused on a technical explanation of the individual mandate, with Chief Justice Roberts noting in his opinion: “…it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress's power to tax."


Chimpanzees play valuable role in biomedical research

In his June 12, 2012 article, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) argues that ending experimentation on chimpanzees is the right choice. While Rep. Bartlett is entitled to his views, we believe strongly that the passage of S. 810/H.R. 1513, the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act (GAPCSA), which he introduced, would have a devastating impact upon the advancement of medicine and human health.
Contrary to Rep. Bartlett’s claim that the recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) study is proof that chimpanzee research is no longer necessary, the IOM study found that pre-clinical testing of some monoclonal antibody drugs requires chimpanzees.  And, half of the study panel and numerous other scientists and physicians believe chimpanzees are necessary for evaluating candidate hepatitis C vaccines.  The IOM report also recognized that “a new, emerging, or re-emerging disease or disorder” may require chimpanzee research and that “comparative genomics research may be necessary for understanding human development, disease mechanisms, and susceptibility.”
Rep. Bartlett’s article contains several other inaccuracies.  First, he says that: “ . . . the Modular IMune In vitro Construct (MIMIC) System uses human cells to replicate the human immune response for quick and accurate therapeutics and vaccine development.  MIMIC can be used in every stage of drug and vaccine development and is both a more reliable and less expensive method than using chimpanzees.”
Although MIMIC and other in vitro methods may eventually be viable alternatives to some research with chimpanzees, there is presently no reasonable alternative to chimpanzee research to develop medical solutions for several devastating diseases.  In fact, not a single vaccine or drug has ever been developed and marketed using the MIMIC System in place of animal models.
Rep. Bartlett also incorrectly argues that chimpanzee research involving HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C has not been effective.  
In fact, the HIV vaccine experiments with chimpanzees were highly informative in disproving the efficacy of candidate vaccines, which could not practically or timely be accomplished with humans due to the number of vaccines and human subjects required. Chimpanzee research paved the way for entirely new strategies for HIV vaccine development which are currently being implemented. Moreover, while it is true that not all new hepatitis C drugs were tested in chimpanzees, development of these drugs depended heavily on prior research with chimpanzees.


We cannot afford to forget Alzheimer's

What devastation the affliction of Alzheimer’s can cause — it can take one’s life, to be sure, but even more insidious, it can remove a lifetime of memories and destroy the very essence of self. On Nov. 5, 1994, former President Reagan announced that he had Alzheimer’s. “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life,” he said in the letter. At that time, four million Americans suffered from the disease. Today, more than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s, and this year alone, $200 billion will be spent caring for those with the disease.


Eating in the dark can be dangerous

A 500-calorie bagel with cream cheese on your way to work. A 700-calorie sandwich for lunch, plus an extra 150 calories if you get chips instead of carrots on the side. A 400-calorie afternoon coffee drink. A 350-calorie margarita after work. And a 1,500-calorie chicken quesadilla with friends for dinner.


Personalized medicine

It’s time to think of health in a disruptive way. Policy must set the enabling landscape, but the truly dramatic and the transformative will come from the exploding but still very young field of personalized medicine.


Voters must now decide future of healthcare law

In a move that surprised many, the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld most provisions included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. This law included an individual mandate which forces every American at certain income levels to purchase healthcare insurance.  The court ruled that the mandate is not constitutional under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but is constitutional under Congress' power to tax. 


An appeal to a higher court

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision on the so-called “Affordable Care Act,” the House will once again take up the imperative of repealing it.
But the Supreme Court decision has much more dire implications for our nation and its cherished freedoms than merely affirming the government take-over of our health care.


What women say they want in their healthcare

In the struggle for the political high ground in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare, both the Obama and Romney camps have spent the bulk of their ammunition arguing over whether the individual mandate is a “tax” or a “penalty.” But when it comes to messaging specifically to women, both camps are missing the point – because new survey data reveals that women don’t care nearly as much about the tax/penalty argument as they do about other features of ObamaCare that can’t be spun.