Monday, October 11, 2010

Have Your Darned Baby, And Don't Bother Us

One week ago, Rand Paul, tea party favorite and GOP nominee for U.S. Senator from Kentucky, was asked about Medicaid funding for maternity care and told a business group

Half of the people in Kentucky are not poor. We’ve made it too easy.

A federal-state health insurance program, Medicaid covers approximately 800,000 poor and disabled people in Kentucky and covers roughly half of the 57,000 annual births in the state. The Guttmacher Institute explains

While income eligibility ceilings under the program in general are usually well below the official federal poverty line, federal Medicaid law requires all states to cover pregnancy-related care for women with incomes up to 133% of poverty. Kentucky and most other states have—wisely—decided to raise that level even further. Still, Kentucky’s eligibility, at 185% of poverty (which is typical among the states), amounts to only about $34,000 a year for a family of three....

According to the March of Dimes, maternity care costs more than $8,800, on average, and these costs can quickly escalate into the tens of thousands of dollars if complications arise (for instance, in the case of a premature birth). That’s why having insurance coverage is so critical. Employer-based group plans usually have good maternity care coverage, but most low-income women don’t get insurance through the workplace. And the National Women’s Law Center has documented that in the individual insurance market, few plans include maternity care coverage at all.

Rand Paul opposes "Obamacare" which, beginning in 2015, requires maternity coverage "as part of the package of “essential health benefits” offered in plans sold through the new state-based health insurance exchanges, as well as in small group and individual policies sold outside the exchanges." Now we know Paul, asserting "lt's not have intergenerational welfare, and that's what's been going on and that's a large part of this problem," is hostile toward Medicaid providing maternity benefits. (But then, he also wants a $2,000 deductible for Medicare, so his distaste extends beyond that for the poor.)

Abortion is not an alternative to Paul, who advocates a Sanctity of Life Amendment, which would effectively ban the procedure. Freedom from government, it seems, ends at the bedroom door.

It's not only Paul, of course. Nevada's Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, Sharron Angle, wants women who become pregnant from rape or incest to be required by the federal government to give birth. (Otherwise, naturally, she opposes big government.) She, too, dislikes insurance companies covering maternity care and is unafraid to demonstrate her skepticism toward autism sufferers.

Two unabashed, uncompromising opponents of legalized abortion who nonetheless want to discourage funding for pregnant women. It would be extraordinary, but then, it is the Republican Party circa 2010.

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