In a heated exchange at a town hall meeting Wednesday night, several attendees, including a young woman, repeatedly asked Rep. Tom MacArthur if rape was considered a preexisting condition under the amendment he authored for the American Health Care Act (AHCA). After being told by MacArthur to "be civil" in her question, the woman — identified by reporters and attendees at the event as a 17-year-old named Daisy — asked the New Jersey congressman for a straight "yes or no" answer on whether sexual assault would be counted among the conditions that could make it more difficult for patients to purchase coverage.
The answer to that question is more broadly "no" — as most states already ban providers from factoring a history of abuse into premium costs and there's no explicit mention of assault survivors in the bill's language. However, concerns remain — concerns clearly shared by MacArthur's constituents — over how survivors, who nonetheless might shoulder a more sizable economic burden throughout their lives for "long-term physical and mental health treatments," could ultimately be affected by the bill.
Despite initial reluctance to answer, MacArthur did say the bill "does not allow discrimination in insurance based on that." Yet, for many, the image of a 17-year-old confidently confronting the politician left a mark.
Heading into the event, it was anticipated that MacArthur's constituents would bring the heat — particularly for his amendment that allow states to obtain waivers that release them from federal requirements that call for insurers to offer 10 main benefits or prevent them from charging more based on a patient's medical history. And given the complicated relationship many politicians had with town hall meetings this year, conflict seemed inevitable.
But Daisy stepping up to the plate, reportedly with her fellow high school pals backing her up, was especially striking to attendees and livestream viewers. Meeting his preemptive scolding to "be civil" with a cool, persistent confidence that people twice her age would envy, the 17-year-old was quickly named a winner of the bout by her new-found Twitter fans.
Maybe best of all, in a time when we so desperately need heroes to stand firm with politicians, act up, and speak truth to power, Daisy's promise to MacArthur might be the most inspiring part of this story: She told him that she'll absolutely be at the polls next year, as a voter at 18, to cast a ballot against him.
Performing civic duties has never been more bad-ass.