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Tilting at Windmills

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September 25, 2009

STABENOW 1, KYL 0.... As a rule, if a senator is pushing back against a colleague's rhetoric, and references the other senator's mother, it would be a fairly dramatic breach of protocol. But that's not always the case.

Igor Volsky reports today that Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has been pushing an amendment to "prohibit the government from defining which benefits should be included in a standard benefit package." Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) noted that basic maternity care ought to be required.

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

Interrupting him, Stabenow added, "I think your mom probably did."

It generated laughter in the hearing room, and with good reason, but it's worth emphasizing why Kyl's argument is worthy of derision. In the hopes of making insurance cheaper, Kyl is comfortable with not covering basic maternity care. The status quo -- only 21 states require insurers to provide maternity care benefits -- is just fine with the #2 senator in the GOP leadership. If discriminatory practices boost industry profits, it's just the free market working as it should.

Kyl's measure was defeated, 14 to 9. That nine Republicans voted for it says a great deal about how the GOP is approaching the reform debate.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

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Comments

"I got mine, bee-atch, screw the rest of you!"

Also, typo: "if just fine" should be "is just fine."

Posted by: Go, Sestak! Or Hoeffel! on September 25, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. I just had a sign with the "F" word walk across my teevee on MSNBC!

Posted by: sandlapper on September 25, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

The only health care Republicans want pertains to blastocyst-Americans. Of the XY persuasion.

Posted by: Monty on September 25, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats should start using the talking point that "Republicans are fighting to make sure maternity care is not included in health care reform."

Posted by: Chuck on September 25, 2009 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Besides the social justice issues, covering maternity care is a way to avoid generating higher costs that arise from poor pre-natal care.

By the way, does Kyl call himself pro-life?

Posted by: Amy on September 25, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)

Shouldn't that be "R-19th Century"?

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 25, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

As he does not appear to have a heart, it becomes obvious that Kyl will oppose heart care in any health care standard benefit package!

On that basis, it becomes apparent that Harry Reid will also oppose any spine care in a standard benefit package.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on September 25, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

That's some nice PWNage by Stabenow, right there.

Posted by: PattyP on September 25, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

until the democratic party admits that there is no reason for private medical insurance companies to exist, dickwads like kyl can gain the stoopid vote by babbling this (misogynistic) bullshit.

Posted by: neill on September 25, 2009 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Of the XY persuasion.

And there's going to be even fewer of those thanks to water contamination. Check out what's happening to fish and frogs, not to mention a growing number of deformed male humans.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 25, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

What a bunch of jack asses. I hope dems point out that republicans HATE PREGNANT WOMEN in the 2010 elections.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on September 25, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Senator Kyl, "WHY TO YOU HATE MOTHERHOOD?? Do hate hate apple pie TOO??"

He's going to regret this one for a long, long, time.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on September 25, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Jon Kyl to expecting mothers: F-YOU!

And thank you for ensuring continued Democratic majorities!

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 25, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have no principled position from which they operate,so they find it much easier to throw incendiary devices at the efforts to reform the health care sector of our nation. With no effort to formulate a position on health care other than don't touch the dysfunctional system that reaps us mucho donations from the existing health care monopolies, the Republican Senators keep showing up in public naked with the new suits they've been able to afford from the funding they take from CIGNA and its corporate kind!

Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are corporations. After all, though those corporate people can get uppity once and awhile, they do recognize the boys from the men among us! In fact, my cousin Bruno has no problem with those coporate types, so that's good enough for me. My best to you Senator Idiot Kyl! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 25, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

This approach ("It doesn't affect me, so I'm against it!") reminds me of the folks who bitch about school taxes because they have no children, and then complain that the quality of service they get at the local McRestaurant has gone down because the kids they hire can't read the cash register keys.

Idjuts! Callous, uncaring, unthinking idjuts!

Ed

Posted by: Ed Drone on September 25, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Reinforces the point made somewhere (maybe here?) that Republicans lack empathy. They'll only care about health care as an issue when it affects them individually. e.g., Cindy McCain seeking public funding for research on migraines, which she suffers from.

Posted by: Philonius on September 25, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Jon Kyl, you've just been kicked in the nuts!"

Posted by: haha on September 25, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl, the reason you have insurance is spread risk. This means everyone pays something for things that other people need, and everyone has their needs taken care of. Let's see what you have to say when a female senator says she doesn't need coverage for prostate cancer.

Posted by: Magic Dog on September 25, 2009 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

What kind of mother could raise such an uncaring S.O.B? A bitch.

Posted by: Trollkiller on September 25, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Maternity benefits for routine delivery were not part of most health insurance policies until the 1970s. Kyl's mother probably did not have it and the cost of her hospital stay was probably about the same as my younger son's in 1969. It was $275 for mother and child. Five years later, it was ten times that cost.

You really need to learn more before popping off.

Posted by: Mike K on September 25, 2009 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Not just how Republicans approach the reform debate--did anyone happen to see Rep. Steve King on C-SPAN about 2 p.m. Friday, 25 Sept.? I'll need to watch it again, if I can find it (and though it will make me half-sick to hear him again), but it was shocking how crudely he attacked the president personally, trying to tie the attacks to policies but straining on that front.

He was all over the place. His ACORN rant, among many unconnected topics that he presented as if there were a central core (aside from personal animus and ideological fury), was maddening as can be. Essentially, he linked Obama and ACORN at the heart and cited electoral fraud, suggesting (or going beyond suggesting) that Obama is an illegitimate president.

Posted by: Giselle on September 25, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K, you don't get it. Kyl is taking the standard Republican approach of "why should I have to pay for any benefit that doesn't personally benefit me, me, me and no one else and certainly not anyone who looks different from me?" Because, duh, that's the whole principle of insurance, whether private or public: spreading the risk over a large population. A more effective response to Kyl would be, "Well, your wife need it." Obviously, one way or another, maternity care did and does and will affect us all.

Posted by: T-Rex on September 25, 2009 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

That was nice, but it could have been better. To wit:

"I think your mom--who, I hear from a very good authority, was a whore--probably did."

Yeah. Much better.

Posted by: ed on September 25, 2009 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

So that means we can remove coverage for prostate cancer from the bill because less than half the population could get it, right?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 25, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

No doubt Kyl's wrong on this issue. But watching the vid, I have to say that if laughter in the gallery is the metric, then Stabenow didn't really score much of a point off him. His rejoinder, "Over sixty years ago," got louder chuckles.

Posted by: Cyan on September 25, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

His rejoinder, "Over sixty years ago," got louder chuckles.

Why, because he says he's old? Great rejoinder.
Stabenow's comment was that his mother probably did need maternity coverage, whether she actually had it is another matter.
Judging by the Kyl's obvious brain damage, his mother probably could have used it. He obviously didn't develop a soul either.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on September 25, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The stupidest thing about Kyl's remark is his assertion that, since he is a man and therefore doesn't need maternity coverage, forcing insurance companies to give him maternity coverage would raise costs for him.

Think about that for a second.

Why would giving men maternity coverage cost anything at all??

In any case, it should cost no more than basic coverage against being turned into a newt.

Posted by: MAE on September 25, 2009 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think going after his mother is "fair game". She obviously did not impart a sense of compassion or respect for women in his upbringing. Perhaps she had to work outside the home to support him because his father was absent or not capable of supporting his family. Probably a liberal.

Posted by: st john on September 25, 2009 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Why, because he says he's old? Great rejoinder.

I don't know why people laughed at that line rather than Stabenow's line (which seemed to me to generate murmurs, not laughter) -- I'm just pointing out that they did. As a victory in the court of public amusement, this is pretty weak sauce.

Posted by: Cyan on September 25, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'm 34, self-employed, healthy, have no "pre-exisiting conditions" and the only reason I have a health insurance policy that I can afford is because I opted out for anything related to pregnancy or maternity-- it would have tripled my monthly premium. The only reason I can opt out without fear is because I'm at 0 risk for becoming pregnant. (One of the few benefits of being a lesbian, no "oops!" pregnancies.)

What I really don't understand is how anyone who considers themselves "pro-life" wouldn't mandate coverage for pregnancy/maternity. Seriously? How "pro-life" is that????!??

I also bet that back when Kyl was born that the standard rate for a hospital birth-- without complications, without a c-section-- wasn't $10,000.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on September 25, 2009 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Kyl's insurance covers his boner pills.

Posted by: josef on September 25, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't ED a pre-existing condition of all males? Exclude coverage for this condition. Prostate enlargement/cancer? Exclude it.

Posted by: st john on September 25, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Trex, I'm afraid I've been too patient with you.

Because, duh, that's the whole principle of insurance, whether private or public: spreading the risk over a large population. A more effective response to Kyl would be, "Well, your wife need it." Obviously, one way or another, maternity care did and does and will affect us all.

Posted by: T-Rex

No, the principle of insurance is to spread the risk of events that are not anticipated and which risk can be estimated by actuaries. We do not sell fire insurance to the man whose house is on fire.

Coverage of pregnancy is prepaid care and has been a significant driver of cost in basic policies. Prostate cancer, like breast cancer, is a classic insurable risk. If you want prepaid care, join an HMO. If you want basic health insurance, exclude prepaid care coverage like routine pregnancy. I don't object to people who want to pay for coverage of pregnancy but it should not be a mandate, especially in a basic catastrophic plan that is mandated.

That is an example of why we don't agree on health reform.

Posted by: Mike K on September 25, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

you know, if women just marry, they could have those benefits thru their husbands policy. So why mandate maternity coverage?
Do we really want to force insurance companies to support the consequences of premarital sex?
JUST CHANNELING MY INNER KYL!!!

Posted by: red on September 25, 2009 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Zoe, it does not follow that because you're a lesbian, you are at zero risk for becoming pregnant.

Posted by: Winkandanod on September 25, 2009 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Trex, I'm afraid I've been too patient with you.

"T-Rex" is not me and I am not him. Notice the difference: "T-Rex" and "trex." He is the famous one, and I am the infamous one. Please try and pay better attention to details.

And if you think by adopting a condescending tone it's going to bolster your arguments, think again. If you aren't embarrassing yourself at the moment, which is unlikely, I only need to reach into the archives and begin pulling out instances of you "popping off" without knowing what you're talking about to embarrass you with. I have a couple in mind at the moment.

I don't object to people who want to pay for coverage of pregnancy but it should not be a mandate, especially in a basic catastrophic plan that is mandated.

That's funny, because it is a mandate in most European systems including in France, where women receive top-notch care and typically spend a week in the hospital and the cost is reimbursed between 95% and 100%. I wonder why the rest of the civilized world, who've given very careful non-political consideration to national insurance, consider pregnancy an important, insurable event and you don't?

Posted by: trex on September 25, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

They should be asked at every turn "Who would Jesus deny? Which of the 74,000 Americans that will die in the next 12 months would your Savior support letting die for corporate profits and greed?"

Posted by: Al Swearengen on September 25, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Al, good response. Who would Jesus, who told his disciples that the last shall be first and the first last, deny? Maybe US Senators ought to be more careful about what they say. (Though Jesus wouldn't deny them either.)

Posted by: Disgusted with Rs on September 25, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

What is wrong with the Rs? Typical garbage and near-sighted as well. Do the Rs (aside from Snowe who voted against Kyl's amendment) not realize the risk factors associated with pregnancy, for both the mother and baby? That if women are not receiving pre-natal care there are more deaths and other problems? If these woman are not covered, who pays for the extra care? Well, either we all do, or these folks have to declare bankruptcy.

How about we just do the sensible thing and care for everyone no matter their age, sex, etc.

I find this debate ridiculous, it goes against common sense and denigrates the greatness of our country.

Posted by: Me on September 25, 2009 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Normal pregnancy is not a unforseeable medical condition. It is rather a choice made by the women. Since Roe v. Wade, the federal govenment has decreed that pregnancy is an entirely voluntary condition. So it is entirely Ms Stabenow's choice to be pregnant or not. As Ms Stabenow's pregnancy, to term, is entirely her choice, it should be entirely her responsibility to foot the bill. After all, it only fair.

Posted by: DavidL on September 25, 2009 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Since Roe v. Wade, the federal govenment has decreed that pregnancy is an entirely voluntary condition. So it is entirely Ms Stabenow's choice to be pregnant or not. As Ms Stabenow's pregnancy, to term, is entirely her choice, it should be entirely her responsibility to foot the bill. After all, it only fair.
Posted by: DavidL

Should I tell the rape and incest victims, or will you?

Posted by: Gonads on September 25, 2009 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Maternity benefits for routine delivery were not part of most health insurance policies until the 1970s. - Mike K

Hey Mike, you realize that we're living in the 21st century now?

Posted by: SRW1 on September 25, 2009 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

No, DavidL, the Federal Gov't has decreed that women's bodies are none of your fucking business.

Or is your dream to become "Chief Sanitary Napkin Inspector of the United States" so that women can be investigated for spontaneous abortions?

Posted by: Al Swearengen on September 25, 2009 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Normal pregnancy is not a unforseeable medical condition. It is rather a choice made by the women. Since Roe v. Wade, the federal govenment has decreed that pregnancy is an entirely voluntary condition. So it is entirely Ms Stabenow's choice to be pregnant or not. As Ms Stabenow's pregnancy, to term, is entirely her choice, it should be entirely her responsibility to foot the bill. After all, it only fair.

And if her baby has a fatal birth defect, or dies in the womb, well, that's a possible outcome of the pregnancy, so that emergency care shouldn't be covered either.

Gosh, this is fun -- how many more women do you think we can kill this way, David? Nicaragua is ahead of us, but I bet we could catch up if we follow their lead and ban abortion. We could probably even double their rate of 150 deaths per 100,000 if we take away all prenatal care like you want since they only banned abortion. What do you say?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 25, 2009 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Maternity benefits for routine delivery were not part of most health insurance policies until the 1970s. - Mike K

Hey Mike, you realize that we're living in the 21st century now?

Posted by: SRW1

I don't expect a lot here but surely you must have an idea how old Senator Kyl is. That was the point.

If you want to cover pregnancy and other non-insurance conditions, like well-baby care, you are going to have much higher costs. Once again, slowly, I don't care if people want to pay for that sort of plan but a mandate, which now has criminal penalties being discussed for not buying it, should cover only catastrophic conditions. Pregnancy that is routine is not one.

If you want to go to the French system, and I do, it is very different from the bills currently in Congress including the "public option."

Posted by: Mike K on September 25, 2009 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Calling it "insurance" is a big part of the confusion. Why would something called "insurance" cover the cost of routine preventive or even anticipated care? Car warranties (a more classic type of insurance) don't generally cover the cost of oil changes, brake jobs, or other expected expenses.

(Don't get me wrong, I think a public health system is the only fair or compassionate choice, not to mention good for the economy, but "insurance" in the classic meaning is NOT what most people want.)

Posted by: Alexis on September 25, 2009 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Kyl ("kila" -- pronounced "kyla" -- in Polish, means "syphilis". My linguistic past keeps prompting problems with the good Senator's surname. Not his fault, of course) -- and "our own" Mike K, too, would find excellent reasons to deny coverage for mammograms and pap smears, in addition to maternity care. I'm absolutely positive that getting cervical and breast cancer is a matter of choice -- with just a slight change in your lifestyle, you could avoid one of them, possibly both.

At least, that's what my own "health scam" (Anthem/Blue Cross) seems to think... at my last annual, I was not given a pap test. When I asked why, I was told that A/BC will no longer pay for an annual pap test *for women my age* (almost 60); I think it's now once every 3yrs or maybe even once every 5 (let's dump her on Medicare in advanced stage of cancer, why not?)

By the same token ("choice" or not), I'm sure that prostate cancer tests for men and breast enhancements for the multiple wives of Mike K ought to be covered. And I ought to be mandated (or fined out of my home) to pay for those.

Posted by: exlibra on September 25, 2009 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

I don't expect a lot here but surely you must have an idea how old Senator Kyl is. That was the point.

In the year John Kyl was born a bill was drafted that proposed a new national health care system. That bill included maternity benefits, you idiot. The only reason it didn't pass was because of jackasses like you that were living back then.

a mandate, which now has criminal penalties being discussed for not buying it, should cover only catastrophic conditions. Pregnancy that is routine is not one....If you want to go to the French system, and I do, it is very different from the bills currently in Congress including the "public option."

The French model -- you know, the one you want to "go to" -- is compulsory AND covers maternity care. Once again you prove you don't know what you're talking about although you pretend to be an expert.

Criminal penalties are a red herring. They aren't in the bill. That's just you fearmongering to try and win points on a blog thread.

Posted by: trex on September 25, 2009 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

We spread the cost of making a public education available to all children over the entire population of a local area, whether they have children or not. (While some people disagree with this model, it is in fact universal throughout the US.) There are many studies showing this to provide a good return on investment for the community as a whole, even if only financial implications are examined.

Many people would like to see the cost of providing health care to children, including prenatal and maternity costs, also spread across the entire population. There are studies that show investments in prenatal care to be similarly cost-effective.

Very few people in the US advocate that the general costs of child-rearing be spread across the public, though many forms of public assistance do give increased aid to families with more children. (This is controversial and many experiments in modifying these rules have been attempted.) Depending on which studies and theories you trust, these policies may have been a good investment or a poor one.

Posted by: Alexis on September 26, 2009 at 12:44 AM | PERMALINK

I don't expect a lot here but surely you must have an idea how old Senator Kyl is. That was the point. - MikeK

Well, that low expectation thing seems to be a rather mutual feeling.

The other, and more salient point was that it doesn't matter that much any more what the situation was when Senator Kyl was born, or when insurance coverage of maternity care was first introduced. Denying it in 2009 in one of the richest countries on the planet is as immoral as it is idiotic. I'm sure Senator Kyl made a lot of new female friends in less than ten seconds.

Posted by: SRW1 on September 26, 2009 at 3:40 AM | PERMALINK

I think debbie stabenow has been out in the ozone too long. she thinks there is global warming too. why then has the summer and now the fall be much colder than normal, She thinks she knows whats best for the rest of us, then how come they opt out of social security and will not
even participate in this so called health care. If you east sideers want to be socialist then why don't you move to Russia, North Korea, Venezuela, China or any other backward country and we conservatives will be happy to donate for your one way airfare. You liberals who like Sen. Levin or Sen. Stabenow will be in for a big surprise in November 2010 when you lose your control of the house and senate like 1994 revisited!!!!!!!

Posted by: jay on October 13, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK
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