Yesterday, as the GOP desperately tried to ram through their terrible health care bill on the anniversary of the original Affordable Care Act, Sen. Pat Roberts was asked if he supported the move to drastically reduce the Essential Health Benefits that insurers are required to cover under the ACA. His response?
I asked Sen. Roberts if he supports scrapping Essential Health Benefits. "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms," he snarked. #AHCA— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) March 23, 2017
So, number one, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, because mammograms are covered under preventative care measures, not essential health benefits. But two, that’s a real funny quip at the expense of thousands of women who could be on the hook for, at least, higher premiums under his health care bill if not having to pay for their own mammograms out of pocket entirely. A mammogram can cost several hundred dollars, which is not a negligible amount of money for most women. This seems a strange reaction from a man who’s been proudly supportive of Breast Cancer Awareness on his social media page:
Mmmmmmhmmmmmmm. You hear a lot about people on the left “virtue signaling” to enhance their liberal credentials without putting in the work, but this? This is a pretty prime example of the kind of virtue signaling the GOP have been pulling for years. Let’s slap pink ribbons on everything! Wear pink ties to work! Have our staff wear pink! Let everyone know their Senator is very aware of breast cancer! But when it comes to the actual tests that you need in order to find and diagnose breast cancer? You’re on your own.
Sen. Roberts did apologize later in the day:
I deeply regret my comments on a very important topic. Mammograms are essential to women's health & I never intended to indicate otherwise.— Pat Roberts (@SenPatRoberts) March 23, 2017
But I’m not heartened by this. One of the things the GOP has continually pushed with this new bill is that men shouldn’t have to pay for healthcare services that only women need, and using the words “women’s health” makes me think that Roberts is still on that side. The health and well-being of half the population is not a “women’s issue,” it’s an American issue. I do hope that Senator Roberts begins to see that and starts working to represent the best interests of ALL of his constituents, but I am not hopeful.