In September 2009, the Senate was set to advance the Affordable Care Act past the committee process, then-Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was pushing an amendment to “prohibit the government from defining which benefits should be included in a standard benefit package.” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) argued, for example, that basic maternity care ought to be required. Kyl’s eloquent response was “I don’t need maternity care.” Stabenow in turn pointedly responded, ‘ I think your mom probably did.’ While its understandable men wouldn’t want to pay for services they don’t directly use, the reality is ALL people benefit from women having access to maternity care. To piggyback onto Senator Stabenow’s comment, men DO benefit from women who have access to quality maternity care via the women who have their children.
More than four years later, our Congressional representatives continue to debate standard benefits in health care coverage, and whether such benefits should cover maternity care. This week at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in which Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was questioned by Congressional members, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) pointedly asked “To the best of your knowledge has a man ever delivered a baby?” Upon first glance, I read this quote thinking Ellmers was somehow going to be an exception in the GOP. As a former nurse turned politician, she understands health needs and health care, or one would hope. However Ellmers brought up this question to highlight what she considers “discrimination” –not of women but of men who would have to buy insurance which will included services that they cannot use. Please no one tell her that present insurance policies cover a variety of services to serve a general population of customers (men, women, children, infants, elderly, disabled) . Wow Rep. Ellmers, nothing gets past you does it?
The Affordable Care Act was set up deliberately so that women wouldn’t be penalized simply for being women, and wouldn’t be forced to pay more for the same coverage as men.
But to respond to the general query from Ellmers, men have benefited from maternity care their entire lives via their mothers who had quality pregnancy care. I would also venture to guess unless a man is a hermit his entire life, he knows women or has women in his family who benefit from maternity care. Birth defects and in utero issues affect a child which will be a part of society. To assume somehow this wont affect you if you’re male is short sighted. Everyone benefits from a healthy society.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers cover maternity care is a major manifestation of its broader prohibition against gender rating. Before Obamacare, it made sense actuarially for insurers to charge women more than men for coverage on the individual market. The fact that women, rather than men, incur maternity costs was a big part of their justification, though women were also generally charged more for equivalent coverage. By prohibiting the practice, Obamacare doesn’t just strike a blow for moral reasoning. It effectuates a billion-dollar transfer of wealth from men to women.”
Information & Facts for this blog post obtained from The Rachel Maddow Show & her subsequent write up on Facebook