What's that saying? Even a broken clock is right twice a day?
Brown on Saturday also signed a bill that allows registered nurses to dispense birth control, making it easier for women to get contraceptives.
"At a time when some seek to turn back the clock and restrict women's health choices, California is expanding access to birth control and reaffirming every woman's basic constitutional rights," Brown said.
The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, allows nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives to dispense the pill, patches and rings.
"With his signature, the governor also took action to address provider shortages statewide by allowing RNs to work to the full extent of their scope and training," said Julie Rabinovitz, head of the California Family Health Council. "This is especially important in our changing health care landscape."
Before I go further, let me specify that unlike some of my fellow Republicans, I actually think Jerry Brown is right more often than once in a blue moon (he was right about the flat tax back in the day, for one thing).
But with that out of the way, let's take a serious look at this and the general direction California has taken in putting the law on the books. Consider a couple points.
1) Indications are that just as the number of people carrying health insurance (and therefore, one presumes to some degree anyway, the number of people with a greater ability, in principle, to access the health care system for non-emergency care) is going to expand with Obamacare coming into full effect, we're looking at an effective doctor shortage. That would, you would expect, mean prices of care by doctors going up and timely access to doctors for individual patients becoming trickier. That creates some special difficulties where prescriptions can only be written by... doctors.
2) Whether a patient is paying out-of-pocket, or via insurance, it's not as cheap as you might think going to see the doctor for an exam which most of them require every year in order to be willing to dispense a prescription for birth control. Add to that the fact that a lot of doctors look to sell patients extras like various tests while there (which may or may not be useful, depending on your perspective, medical or sexual history, ability to pay, etc.) and you're looking at a potentially higher cost than even just that. Plus, these visits often take time out of the day that many women simply don't have, so you're looking at non-monetary costs, too, and all to get a prescription that (in the case of the birth control pill) could easily and safely be dispensed with a blood pressure check and a warning not to smoke while taking it-- for which one does not, I would argue, need to have attended medical school.
3) The ongoing debate about contraception is supposed to be about access, but access has been redefined by the national Democratic Party and groups like Planned Parenthood in the course of its "war on women" (IMO BS) rhetorical assault to mean "mandates." But as the saying goes, there are different ways to skin a cat, and this is true with regard to the contraception access debate, too.
4) Contraception access, while a touchy subject for some, actually does matter and there's a simple reason why: Proper use of contraception by those who want it means fewer unwanted pregnancies and-- surprise!-- fewer abortions. Now, I'm pro-choice, but I'm also of the firm belief that too many abortions take place in America every year, and that abortion (much like adoption, or carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term and keeping the baby) usually involves a combination of emotional and physical pain that is best avoided by diminishing the number of unwanted pregnanices in the first place: It's the humane and right thing to do, from both a pro-life and a pro-woman standpoint.
I think what Brown has done in signing this is smart, and the GOP across the country should take note.
As much as we may wish it, Obamacare is very unlikely to be repealed (it will, of course, be tinkered with, but many of the fundamental challenges with it will remain).
Health care is overregulated, and that contributes to cost and access issues.
Access is, however, important and the basic recognition of that, together with the redefinition of "access" to mean "mandates" by the Left is a reason why some of this "war on women" stuff has stuck (and for the record, it happens to be hurting the Romney-Ryan ticket in places like Virginia).
To the extent that access-- or perhaps more accurately, cheaper access without the subsidy of groups like Planned Parenthood who perform a lot of abortions every year being involved-- is less robust than it should be, that means that we're running the risk of many very, very, very easily avoided abortions taking place every year. That's not something that the more pro-life of the two parties should support, and what Brown has done here hints at an easy, more free-market (but not Rand Paul free market, which let's be honest, a lot of Republicans couldn't get on board with) solution to something that, I would argue, is both a substantive, real-life problem for many women (and their partners) and a political problem for the GOP.
Republicans would be smart to take a look at this, get behind implementation of similar deregulatory laws where nurses are currently barred from prescribing, and also look to go even further.
Why not allow over-the-counter sales where a blood pressure test is performed and where a pharmacist warns the patient not to smoke? Those are essentially the only services directly relevant to the contraception itself that doctors provide, yet the cost associated with them doing so, the need to go into the doctor's office and spend what can be too significant an amount of time there, is too high.
My suspicion is that the AMA wouldn't like this, but you know what? I bet many pharmaceutical companies would and hell, millions of American women (and their partners) would. So would insurance companies, I imagine.
It would be great for the GOP to be in a position where it can be better characterized as pursuing positive health care reforms that improve access, reduce cost, and expand freedom and flexibility, without undercutting the GOP's claim to be the more pro-life of the two parties. This is a worthwhile path to consider, and I hope individual Republicans will.
If they can agree with Brown on the flat tax, they can agree with him on other sensible policy moves like this one. [intro]