Last week the GOP battled over a healthcare bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. For the past eight years, repealing Obamacare had become a rallying point for the Republican party. What we are witnessing now is that it’s a lot easier to complain about something than to actually come up with a solution. In the professional world, I have been taught to never even think about complaining about a problem unless I have a solution, it’s unfortunate that politicians don’t hold themselves to this standard.
The last month has been a wake-up call for most Americans on the subject of healthcare. Let’s face it, not many people even knew what Obamacare was until they were about to lose it. The attention has always been on the mandatory insurance aspect of the Affordable Care Act, but now as it is on the chopping block, most of us are realizing that there was a lot more to it than having to get a policy. Few people knew that Obamacare also required that insurance policies cover ten essential benefits. The ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, demanded that these essential benefits be removed from law. The argument was that essential coverage points drive up the cost of health insurance. In other words, the less your policy covers, the less you have to pay. The rest of the GOP caved in, and it’s been agreed by the GOP that the essential benefits will be removed from any future healthcare reform presented during Trump’s tenure.
What are the ten types of essential coverage required by Obamacare? Here’s a list:
- Ambulatory patient services (Outpatient care).
- Emergency Services (Trips to the emergency room).
- Hospitalization (Treatment in the hospital for inpatient care).
- Maternity and newborn care. Care that women receive during pregnancy (prenatal care), throughout labor, delivery, and post-delivery, and care for newborn babies.
- Mental health services and addiction treatment.
- Prescription drugs.
- Rehabilitative services and devices.
- Laboratory services.
- Preventive services, wellness services, and chronic disease treatment.
- Pediatric services.
That is not a frivolous list. It’s not a wish list of elective procedures, but is truly made up of the essentials. What was most interesting to me about this debate was that every politician and conservative media outlet used the same talking point over and over to argue their side. The focus was on maternity benefits, and the argument was, “Why should an 18 year old single healthy male have to pay for maternity benefits?” Nobody said anything about prescriptions, ER visits, or addiction treatment. Nope, everyone focused on men not having to pay for maternity care.
Nancy Pelosi put it well when she said, “So now being a woman is a pre-existing condition.” How is it that the Freedom Caucus, and news outlets such as Fox, focused on maternity care? Perhaps it sounds like an easy argument to win with male voters. Why should you have to pay for something you are never going to use, right? Did these guys miss health class, or are they just so focused on male voters that they simply just don’t care about women? The point is, it takes a man to get a woman pregnant, but the GOP wants only women to carry the cost of footing the bill? The GOP has now created one of the most outrageously sexist arguments to ever come out of DC, and had no qualms about publicizing it.
Healthcare reform is complex and goes beyond insurance. The cures to our problems that all too often focus on treatment rather than prevention are certainly up for debate. However, one thing is certain, if you want to reform healthcare, don’t do it by making women pay more for insurance simply because they are the sex of our species to give birth. If men were the ones giving birth it is without a doubt in my mind that every insurance plan in America would be required to have incredible maternity benefits.