One of the regressive left’s favorite pastimes is portraying Republicans as misogynists with a special affinity for rapists. From relentless attacks on Todd Akin to their kangaroo college courts on sexual assault to hammering the religious beliefs of those who believe that life is a gift from God, even when that life begins with a sexual assault, the regressive drum beat thumps out “Republicans are evil, Republicans hate women, Republicans support rapists,” and it works for them.
The logic behind this claim is tortured.
Advocates and media reports highlighted individual stories of survivors of sexual assault or rape claiming they were denied coverage because of conditions relating to the abuse.
One prominent example is Christina Turner, former insurance underwriter who was prescribed anti-AIDS medicine as a precaution after she was sexually assaulted. Turner, then 45 years old, was quoted in news reports in October 2009 saying she was unable to obtain insurance coverage because insurers told her that the HIV medication raised too many health concerns. Recent media coverage all linked back to one Huffington Post article, even though health coverage has changed since then.
“Given that the treatment she received was directly associated with rape and sexual assault and subsequently denied health care coverage because of it — it is the same thing as making rape a pre-existing conditions,” said Karin Roland, chief campaigns officer at UltraViolet.
— UltraViolet (Text JOIN to 98688) (@UltraViolet) May 4, 2017
Reason has a good breakdown on what is—and isn’t—in the AHCA regarding this claim.
The latest less-than-truthful meme about Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA), passed by the U.S. House on Thursday, is that it makes rape a “preexisting condition” for health-insurance purposes. According to a host of women’s publications and an army of outraged tweeters, sexual assault and domestic abuse survivors could soon be forced to disclose their attacks to insurance companies, which could subsequently deny them health-insurance coverage because of it.
None of this is true. Like, not even a little bit. And the fact it’s not just being shared by shady social-media activists and their unwitting dupes but by ostensibly-legitimate media outlets is another sad indictment of press standards these days.
Nothing in the new Republican health care bill specifically addresses sexual assault or domestic violence whatsoever. What it does say is that states can apply for waivers that will allow insurance companies, under certain limited circumstances, to charge higher premiums to people based on their personal medical histories—that’s it. (States that are granted the waivers must also set up special high-risk insurance pools to try and help defray costs for these people.) Under Obamacare, no such price variances based on preexisting conditions are permitted.
The general point, inaccurate though it is, seems to center on the premise that “being a rape survivor is “pre-existing condition.”
Reason tackles this claim directly:
In the story getting much more attention, a woman who had been sexually assaulted was prescribed anti-HIV medication as a precaution. When she tried to apply for new insurance coverage not long after, her application was denied because of a company policy against insuring anyone who had been on the HIV medication recently. The insurers did not initially deny her claim because she was a rape victim—they weren’t even aware of that information at first, though she says she did later inform them. If anything, the company is guilty of not treating this woman differently based on her history of sexual assault.
If you think it’s bad that the company wouldn’t insure people who had previously taken medication to prevent HIV, then let’s talk about that policy! But let’s not pretend that “rape” was the preexisting condition the insurer was worried about in this case.
So off-base are these hysterical claims about rape being made a preexisting condition in AHCA that even the far-left outlet BuzzFeed posted a refutation.
This claim, which has been flying around Twitter and Facebook, seems to stem from pre-Obamacare reports of domestic abuse victims being denied health insurance. The argument goes that returning to the pre-Obamacare system will bring this practice back.
This analysis ignores several factors. First, the AHCA doesn’t allow insurance companies to deny people coverage because they have a pre-existing condition. States can apply for waivers that would allow them to raise prices on people with pre-existing health conditions — but not ban coverage — and those waivers would have to be approved by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Even in those cases, however, all but two states — Idaho and Vermont — already ban insurers from factoring domestic abuse into premium costs. Even before Obamacare, charging abuse victims more for their insurance premiums was extremely rare; while the practice was prevalent as late as the 1990s, there was little sign of it by the late 2000s.
However, while rape will not be counted as a pre-existing condition itself, use of services that result from a sexual assault (such as mental health services and STD treatments) could potentially cause someone to face higher premiums in states that opts for waivers.
Heck even Politfact rates the claim as “mostly false.”
Why the left insists on exploiting and further terrorizing rape victims in their relentless, partisan attacks on the Republican House’s health care bill is beyond me. Instilling unfounded fear and anxiety into people who have already been traumatized goes beyond skeptical and cheap and moves into the very type of cruelty and heartlessness of which they accuse Republicans.
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