Opinion: Republicans, Rape, and Pre-existing Conditions

It is likely true that many Americans are drawn to media reports, mainly online media reports that fit into their pre-conceived belief or idea about something they really want to be true. The term “confirmation bias” describes a person whose tendency is to seek out, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. In street vernacular confirmation bias is embracing “bullshit” that one really wants to believe is legitimate and true. This disorder, confirmation bias, is not reserved for one side of the political spectrum and that fact was manifest this past week after House Republicans narrowly passed healthcare legislation to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Now, it is beyond refute that anything reported about the GOP’s replacement for the ACA is negative in nature simply because it is a giant step backward from the ACA’s improvement to the healthcare insurance and delivery industry. And, there is seemingly nothing being reported on that is unbelievable in regard to causing harm to Americans unfortunate enough to get sick, are injured, or contract a fatal disease. However, there has been an abundance of reporting that, firmly ensconced within the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), are provisions making “rape and sexual assault” a pre-existing condition insurance carriers can use to decline healthcare coverage for women.

Of course such a “provision” is not out of the realm of possibility with insurance industry shills, patriarchs, misogynists and anti-women evangelicals that make up the Republicans in Congress, but it is simply not in the GOP’S healthcare legislation. In fact, it has always been the purview of the insurance industry, and specifically the healthcare insurance industry, to decide what is, and what is not, considered a pre-existing condition. Congress has no say in that decision whatsoever. What the Affordable Care Act did was prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage or charging exorbitant premiums for people with a pre-existing medical condition.

The GOP’s AHCA, as it is written today, allows individual states to decide whether an insurance carrier has to cover pre-existing conditions if they so choose. Before the ACA’s implementation, insurance companies did, in fact, deny women coverage, enrollment, or charge significantly higher premiums for pregnancy or being an expectant parent (including men), C-Section, menopause, hysterectomy, or postpartum depression. So it made sense that a condition stemming from a rape or sexual assault like HIV/Aids would be a hateful, but valid reason, to believe an insurance carrier would claim a rape or sexual assault was a pre-existing condition to deny coverage.

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As the Washington Post pointed out, even states that choose to claim a waiver allowing insurance companies to deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, clearly 45 states  already have a law prohibiting insurance discrimination based on sexual assault and/or domestic violence. That fact is according to the National Women’s Law Center and not the opinion of this author or the Washington Post.

A trade association for 1,300 insurance companies, America’s Health Insurance Plans, harshly criticized the GOP’s AHCA as “needing important improvement” also said that “of course, survivors of domestic abuse and rape should be covered.” WaPo also reported that “all but two states (Idaho and Vermont) enacted a 1999 model legislation by the National Associations of Insurance Commissioners to ban insurers from discriminating against sexual abuse survivors.” Those facts are a damn sight contrary to the deafening cries from critics claiming that the Republican healthcare bill includes “rape and sexual abuse” as pre-existing conditions.

The truth about this particular issue, pre-existing conditions, is a lot more complex than just denying insurance coverage for any condition unique to women; something that is not the purview of Republicans in Congress. Of course, it is believable that Republicans would single out women for “special” treatment by the insurance industry according to their war on women. They are working feverishly to allow evangelical groups, businesses, and church-related colleges to deny women contraception coverage in health insurance plans, but they did not cite rape and sexual assault as a pre-existing condition.

Both Politifact and the Washington Post fact checkers determined that the claim many left-leaning news outlets and women’s advocacy groups are making that Republicans deemed “rape and sexual abuse” as pre-existing conditions is false. Technically they are correct; those two ‘conditions’ are not in the Republican legislation. However, insurance companies have, for decades, found very creative and despicable ways to deny coverage based on what they determine are pre-existing conditions for women and men.

For example, this author learned that one insurance company did deny coverage for a 56-year old male’s knee surgery because the torn cartilage “could have occurred decades earlier IF the patient played football in high school.” Nothing is out of bounds for the insurance industry and it is why so many Americans don’t trust them.

If the GOP “Obamacare” replacement is enacted into law and states go through a yet undetermined waiver process to give insurance companies the right to claim “pre-existing” conditions as a reason to deny coverage or charge higher premiums, then criticize them appropriately. But for dog’s sake, it doesn’t do the left any good whatsoever to perpetuate a myth their readers want to believe because it conforms to their biases. It is an issue far too many left-leaning news sites are guilty of and over issues completely unrelated to healthcare insurance. What they have done, and are continuing unabated, is give every two-bit conservative validity in claiming liberal media is “fake news.” And in this instance, claiming Republicans made rape and sexual abuse a pre-existing condition is fake news even though it certainly fits into their patriarchal anti-woman reputation. There are more than enough Republican policies, actions, and agendas to legitimately condemn without embracing highly-questionable stories that liberals really want to be true.

H/t HrafnkellHaraldsson

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