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The Republican Party: Where the War on Women Meets the War on the Concept of Insurance

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The attempt by Republicans to eliminate essential services from health care regulations has a revealed a party that thinks health care for women is a literal joke. Charles Krauthammer — after, natch, some rote invocation of “tort reform and permitting the buying of insurance across state lines” because he’s a Serious Thinker — gets to it:

Even more significant would be stripping out the heavy-handed Obamacare coverage mandate that dictates what specific medical benefits must be included in every insurance policy in the country, regardless of the purchaser’s desires or needs.

Best to mandate nothing. Let the customer decide. A 60-year-old couple doesn’t need maternity coverage. Why should they be forced to pay for it? And I don’t know about you, but I don’t need lactation services.

This would satisfy the House Freedom Caucus’ correct insistence on dismantling Obamacare’s stifling regulatory straitjacket — without scaring off moderates who should understand that no one is being denied “essential health benefits.” Rather, no one is being required to buy what the Jonathan Grubers of the world have decided everyone must have.

Former President, Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader, Secretary of State, Prime Minister, and 2017 Opening Day starter for the Boston Red Sox Jonathan Gruber wants to ram health care for chicks RIGHT DOWN YOUR THROAT!

This is always obscenely self-centered nonsense in any case. But it’s particularly remarkable coming from someone who has needed expensive ongoing medical care that — unless he was independently wealthy enough to abjure insurance the entire time — other people having been paying for since his early 20s:

But while childbirth may be the GOP’s favorite and only example of an unnecessary essential health benefit, eliminating all the essential health benefits, as they propose, will do more than shift the costs of insurance onto prospective mothers. It will allow — and, by the logic of adverse selection, force — insurers to segment their coverage for all kinds of medical risk.

Krauthammer himself has been a paraplegic since the age of 22. That’s an expensive medical condition. Probably he has group insurance through the Washington Post or another institution with which he’s affiliated, allowing him to spread the cost of his expensive medical care onto a risk pool that includes healthier, cheaper-to-cover people. Or perhaps he has a different arrangement. I do not for one moment resent that my insurance helps cover either childbirth or mechanized wheelchairs, even though I personally need neither service, and nothing Krauthammer says would make me reconsider.

It is callous enough that Republicans apply their every-man-for-himself logic to health care, and land on the belief that those fortunate enough to be blessed with good health should not be burdened with the cost of paying for the medical needs of others. But when the advocate of this argument himself has expensive medical needs, the callousness rises to a level of solipsistic barbarism. A paraplegic man resents having to pay for women who need help breastfeeding their babies. Why should those women have to buy insurance that covers wheelchairs?

It really is remarkable. And this isn’t some random Reddit commenter, but a guy whose columns can get printed in expensively promoted and honored books. In related news, maybe it’s time to stop claiming that Republicans secretly favor something like the Affordable Care Act? To paraphrase Tony Soprano, when people continually act like they don’t give a shit about anyone else you should probably conclude at some point that they’re not acting.

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