From the day it was signed into law, House Republicans have done everything they could to derail the Affordable Care Act — 46 votes to repeal, delay or defund and counting. The rollout has definitely had its share of bumps, but rather than working to fix it, they’re assigning blame and launching more attacks.
Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) takes the cake for political grandstanding: when she got her turn to question Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at an oversight hearing this week, she focused on why insurance policies are now required to cover maternity coverage, haranguing her over the fact that men have to pay for policies that cover it.
Women have consistently been paying for insurance policies that cover issues that may be specific to men. But more importantly, women were often discriminated against for decades and charged higher premiums based on their gender. One of the major accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act is that being a woman is no longer considered a pre-existing condition and basic women’s health care — including access to preventive care like birth control — is covered with no additional copay.
Ellmers doesn’t seem to understand the very idea of insurance: an insurance policy has a series of benefits and whether you use them or not, you pay into a policy in the event that you may need it. Maternity coverage is one of these benefits, and men often need this coverage for their partner. It’s changes like these in the Affordable Care Act that make stories like Jessica’s possible:
I just had a baby 4 weeks ago. I was able to get a breast pump at no cost through my health insurance thanks to the ACA. Breast pumps are very expensive and I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford a double electric pump on my own. Because I have one, I am able to pump and freeze breast milk so I can better feed my daughter in the future (when I return to work).
I am so thankful for this!
Jessica Z. is from North Carolina, just like Rep. Ellmers. But the fact that women from her home state are benefiting from health care coverage under Obamacare doesn’t stop her from trying to undermine the law. That she refuses to acknowledge the benefits of Obamacare for women makes Rep. Ellmers a true health care hooligan.
But there’s also a punch line! Congresswoman Ellmers is the chair of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee, whose goal is “influencing, advancing, leading, and communicating the Republican agenda in the House of Representatives...from a woman's perspective” [emphasis original]. Attacking the provisions that end discrimination and benefit women seems like an odd way to reflect “a woman’s perspective.”