As the House Republican caucus scrambles Thursday to secure votes for its Obamacare repeal and replacement bill, a Republican senator implied to a female reporter he is willing to cut Essential Health Benefits because he doesn’t need mammograms.
Alice Ollstein, a reporter for Talking Points Memo, asked Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS., if he would support Essential Health Benefits, which are mandated types of care covered by insurance. Those include vaccines, pediatric care, prescription drugs, hospitalization, maternity care — and cancer screenings.
“I sure don’t want my mammogram benefits taken away,” Roberts told Ollstein sarcastically.
Ollstein tweeted the remark, which solicited snark on Twitter, including from Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.
Roberts tweeted apologizing for his remark.
The National Cancer Institute recommends regular mammograms for women aged 40 to 74 to help detect breast cancer. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin. Regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers free and low-cost mammograms to those without insurance.
About one in eight American women will get breast cancer during their lifetime. About 40,610 women are expected to die this year from the disease in the U.S. Because men have breast tissue, they can also develop breast cancer.
The Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, was held up in the House Thursday in part because of the Essential Health Benefits. The House Freedom Caucus refuses to pass a bill that includes the mandated health coverage because they said it raises premium costs too much. The benefits were a core provision of Obamacare.