At a town hall event in early May 2017, Rep. Rod Blum, an Iowa Republican, raised more than a few eyebrows with his comments on maternity care.
Blum, who recently voted for the American Health Care Act of 2017 («Trumpcare»), argued it’s «crazy» to expect men’s health care to overlap with maternity benefits.
“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 noted to his constituents.
At first thought, Blum’s assertion might seem reasonable — why should an older man’s health care plan include pregnancy insurance?
But when it comes to health care policy, the devil is in the details.
As New York magazine reported, Obamacare’s provision requiring insurers provide maternity care to everyone guaranteed that those companies couldn’t discriminate against women (emphasis added):
«There’s a good reason Obamacare required insurance companies to cover maternity care. Before Obamacare, women who unexpectedly became pregnant would be surprised to find their insurance plans didn’t include maternity care. Then, when they tried to change plans, their insurance would treat their pregnancy as a preexisting condition and deny them coverage. In other words, Obamacare included maternity care as an essential health benefit to keep insurance companies from discriminating against women.»
This point wasn’t lost on Barbara Rank, a retired teacher and a constituent of Blum’s, who responded to his comment with a simple thoughtful argument in a local op-ed.
Rank was there at the town hall where Blum’s controversial remarks were met with boos and jeers. And even though she didn’t say anything in the crowded high school gym that night, Rank made her two cents known in an op-ed in The Telegraph Herald on May 12, 2017.
As Rank wrote:
Congressman Rod Blum in a Dubuque town hall (Monday) night asked, ‘Why should a 62-year-old man have to pay for maternity care?’
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.
To be clear, Rank does misquote Blum from the town hall in her letter to the editor — as a spokesperson for Blum told The Washington Post, «he was referring to the idea of patients being able to choose health insurance policies that fit their needs, rather than one size fits all policies filled with government mandates.»
But Rank’s point still holds up. The idea that someone pays for government services or benefits they might not personally need boils down to an important but pretty simple idea that keeps democracy afloat: It’s the greater good.
When inequality exists anywhere, it’s a problem for all of us. When a kid learns something new in a textbook at school, we all benefit. When a family is able to afford maternity care, we all benefit. As Rank’s message puts it so simply, in a democracy, we sink or swim together.
Here’s what social networks say about this:
Elyse McGowan-Kidd How about: Why you should pay for maternity care? Have you ever been born?
Larina Lynne Why do women have to pay for colon or testicular cancer screenings or E.D. treatment? It’s a petty set of questions when we start nitpicking where the safety nets are applied. Where is our compassion? It’s time to oust insurance corporations and institute a single payer system!
Thomas D. Long By Rep. Blum’s logic why should I, a childless person, pay high property taxes for schools? To me the answer is easy. As we get older all of us begin to realize we live in a world populated mostly by other people’s children. I want those children to be the best they can be (in part so they will take good care of old people like me.). That starts with good maternity care and continues with good health care and education.
William Rawson Simply because if everyone only pays for what they use then society would collapse. Taken to the extreme, why should you pay for roads if you don’t drive, why pay for police if you don’t use them, why pay for firemen if you never have a fire,why cover the lost taxes from churches if I’m not religious. Anarchy would prevail in short order.