Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) was forced to make a hasty apology on Twitter after making particularly insensitive comments during an interview with Talking Points Memo. Like many other Republicans, he’s been feeling pressure from congressional leadership and the white house to parrot distracting remarks that make it sound as if Obamacare is absurdly wasteful.
The argument goes that if men have to pay for mammograms and maternity leave that funds are being wasted since they aren’t actually using them. That argument misses the point of insurance entirely. No actual women-only services are done on men so that money is never wasted. Instead men help pay for the burden women face just as women help pay for men’s-only services like prostate exams.
So no money is actually being spent under Obamacare on men for things that only women can get. They are simply helping to pay for treatment that is being appropriately applied to women. That’s what insurance does; it allows payment to happen across the entire population so that no single person is forced to go bankrupt simply because they happen to get ill.
On a side note: men do get breast cancer and do actually have mammograms. They just have them far less often than women do. So the Senator’s comment is not only callous, misleading and offensive but also happens not to make any sense either.
Senator Roberts said sarcastically during the interview: “I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms.” Many conservatives will argue that what he meant to draw attention to was the absurdity that men should have to pay for mammograms when they don’t (again they do) get them.
But this line of reasoning completely misses the point for another reason: even if he wasn’t trying to sound callous, voting for the bill will in fact take away essential coverage and arguably affect women more severely than men. So even if there are several layers of complexity to this, the senator was still making a joke out of something that will kill women.
If the senator knows this and is just intentionally misleading voters then his joke is just as heartless as it sounds. However, if he doesn’t understand that his argument is misleading then, while he may not deserve our scorn, he is ill-informed in a way that will kill people. And smug about it.
Here’s A Sampling of Twitter’s Response to Senator Roberts’ Comment:
@SenPatRoberts You regret getting caught. No one says that by accident. You’re not worthy of the honor of representing US citizens.
— Racheline Maltese (@racheline_m) March 23, 2017
A mammogram literally saved my mothers life. Senator Roberts can fuck off. https://t.co/75fUcukuSR
— serephita (@serephita) March 23, 2017
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) March 23, 2017
@SenPatRoberts Just this week I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer found only by mammogram. What a cruel man you are.
— Sharon Wilson (@sqhwilson) March 23, 2017
@SenPatRoberts Is there a form I can submit to stop paying for your healthcare?
— andyyy (@aczaj) March 23, 2017
— DT Kieling (@davevehicle) March 23, 2017
— Ana Beavenhaus (@beavenhaus) March 23, 2017
@SenPatRoberts Excellent. Now do not vote to strip health coverage for mammograms from millions.
— Dennis Perkins (@DennisPerkins5) March 23, 2017
@SenPatRoberts u still don’t want poor women to have access to them so stfu
— eve peyser (@evepeyser) March 23, 2017
@SenPatRoberts we deeply regret that idiots like you somehow continue to get voted into office.
— Rahul Sood (@rahulsood) March 23, 2017
Featured Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty