Hey Sen. Kyl: Maternity Care MATTERS

BlogHer Original Post

I curse and yell "PATRIARCHY!" a whole lot, but today I went through the roof and my screams got a bit louder.

Why?

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and how he is seemingly no friend to mothers across this country.

From Talking Points Memo:

Just before the Senate Finance Committee wrapped up for the long weekend, members debated one of Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) amendments, which would strike language defining which benefits employers are required to cover.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) argued that insurers must be required to cover basic maternity care. (In several states there are no such requirements.)

"I don't need maternity care," Kyl said. "So requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don't need and will make the policy more expensive."

Stabenow interrupted: "I think your mom probably did."

Here's the video of the exchange:

Senator Kyl's amendment, which was defeated, comes on the heels of learning most health insurance plans do not cover maternity care and consider c-sections a pre-existing condition. We also learned this week that seven states consider domestic violence a pre-existing condition.

In other words, insurance companies and, it appears, certain Senators from Arizona, don't really care too much for women.

Think Progress drills down on the Kyl amendment:

As Igor Volsky notes at the Wonk Room, Kyl’s amendment “would prohibit the government from defining which benefits should be included in a standard benefit package and would permit health insurance companies to design policies that exclude higher-cost beneficiaries.”

Maternity care, in fact, is a perfect example of why Kyl’s amendment is so bad. Most individual health insurance markets don’t cover maternity care. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 14 states have a requirement for such coverage, and the number of plans without maternity coverage continues to rise dramatically. Anthem Blue Cross — which has been actively fighting health care reform — considers pregnancy optional and therefore not necessary to insure:

“The point of insurance is to insure against catastrophic care costs. That’s what you’re trying to aggregate and pool for such things as heart attacks and cancer,” said an Anthem Blue Cross spokesman. “Having a child is a matter of choice. Dealing with an adult onset illness, such as diabetes, heart disease breast or prostate cancer, is not a matter of choice.”

“A well defined minimum benefits package would compel health insurers to provide basic services to all Americans,” adds Volsky. “The Kyl amendment, which ultimately failed, would have allowed the industry to continue profiting from discriminatory practices.”

Women already get the short end of the stick when it comes to health care.

From the New York Times:

Striking new evidence has emerged of a widespread gap in the cost of health insurance, as women pay much more than men of the same age for individual insurance policies providing identical coverage, according to new data from insurance companies and online brokers.

Some insurance executives expressed surprise at the size and prevalence of the disparities, which can make a woman’s insurance cost hundreds of dollars a year more than a man’s.

So on top of having to pay more, Senators like Kyl don't find things like maternity care 'necessary.'

Imagine, if you will, all things 'maternity' related being 'unnecessary.' Prenatal care. Ultrasounds. Labor. Delivery. Birth. Postpartum care. 'Unnecessary.'

How many of you could afford to have a child if these were all considered 'unnecessary' by your insurance company? What if you found yourself pregnant and realized you could not afford all the costs associated with having this baby?

Is this really a way for Republicans to discourage the termination of pregnancy? Or could we see those numbers rise if Senators like Kyl got their way?

Yes, Senator Kyl, I echo Senator Stabenow. Your mother needed maternity care. All mothers need maternity care. And you'd be wise to yield the floor to the women who know better.

Erin Kotecki Vest also blogs at Queen of Spain blog, where she talks about her two children born via that pre-existing condition known as a c-section.

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