The best moment from a Monday town hall in Iowa came after the event was over. While responding to a constituent's question on what the "rush" to pass the AHCA was during the town hall at Dubuque Senior High School, Republican Rep. Rod Blum said men having to pay for pregnancy insurance is "crazy." The remark sparked plenty of backlash, and one woman's inspired response to the congressman's maternity insurance remarks went deservedly viral.
Blum's maternity care comment came as part of his suggestions as to how he could have made the AHCA better. "Get rid of some of these crazy regulations that Obamacare puts in, such as a 62-year-old male having to have pregnancy insurance," he said. The morning after the incident, Barbara Rank, a retired teacher who attended the town hall, sent in a letter to the Telegraph Herald responding to Blum.
Ranks reacted by posing a series of questions for Blum to consider. She wrote:
I ask, why should I pay for a bridge I don’t cross, a sidewalk I don’t walk on, a library book I don’t read?
Why should I pay for a flower I won’t smell, a park I don’t visit, or art I can’t appreciate? Why should I pay the salaries of politicians I didn’t vote for, a tax cut that doesn’t affect me, or a loophole I can’t take advantage of?
It’s called democracy, a civil society, the greater good. That’s what we pay for.
The letter was soon shared on Reddit and garnered thousands of votes, landing it on the site's front page. Blum did not immediately respond to Bustle's request for his reply to Rank's letter.
“It makes me laugh,” Rank told the Washington Post. “It's such a silly little piece.” She says Blum's comments came to her during her "thinking time," her four-mile morning walk. After remembering what her congressman had said, she thought, “Come on, didn't we learn this in fifth-grade social studies?”
As it currently stands, the AHCA allows states to opt out of requiring insurers to cover pregnancy care. Not only that, it also no longer considers maternity and newborn care as "essential" benefits that must be covered. This would effectively result in higher premiums for a majority of Americans who identify as women.
Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, who works as an Advocacy Fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, described the benefits of the Affordable Care Act to Elle. "I saw patients in my practice who had not been able to get health insurance for five, ten years finally come in and get care because they could finally afford the premiums, or get maternity coverage," she said.
In arguing how Obamacare is unfair, Republicans often point to the law mandating insurers to include prenatal care. During a 2013 hearing, North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers asked, "To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?" However, as explained in a Washington Post article, the legislators who drafted the ACA included such services in the category of "essential benefits" in order to prevent insurers from discriminating against women by charging higher prices — a challenge women often faced, regardless of whether or not the policies they purchased included prenatal or postnatal care.
Hopefully more Republicans — and Americans in general — will be able to understand the vitality of pregnancy coverage with messages like Rank's.