The prize for best line of questioning to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Wednesday morning must go to Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), for pinning Sebelius down on the question of why Obamacare requires men to buy maternity coverage. Sebelius tried to squirm away–as she had done with many other questioners, but Ellmers was on her “A” game.
Ellmers’s performance was particularly commendable because she is lower in the congressional pecking order and therefore had to wait until the end, with less time to spare. She even found time, using a pointed yes-or-no question, to puncture Democrats’ favorite dodge–namely, that helped Republicans improve Medicare Part D, even though they had opposed it. (Unlike Obamacare, Medicare Part D is voluntary, as Sebelius had to admit.)
Next, Ellmers turned to the fact that Obamacare makes consumers pay more for insurance they do not need (much like being forced to buy a fancy car with all of the options, when a basic new car or used car would have been fine).
The ensuing exchange should be studied by Republicans for future reference. This is how it’s done:
Rep. Ellmers: You also brought up the issue, when you were in Kansas [as governor and health insurance commissioner], that you fought against discriminatory issues. Now I–you know, as far as the essential health benefits [of Obamacare], correct me if I’m wrong, do men not have to buy maternity coverage?
Sec. Sebelius: Policies will cover maternity coverage for young and healthy–
Rep. Ellmers: Including men?
Sec. Sebelius: Under 30-year-olds will have a choice also of a catastrophic plan which has no maternity coverage.
Rep. Ellmers: The men are required to purchase–
Sec. Sebelius: Well, an insurance policy has a series of benefits, whether you use them or not. And one of the benefits will be–
Rep. Ellmers: And that is why the health care premiums are increasing this high, because we’re forcing them to buy things they will never need. Thank you, madam chairman.
Sec. Sebelius: The individual policies cover families. Men often do need maternity coverage for their spouses and for their families, yes.
Rep. Ellmers: Single male, age 32, does not need maternity coverage.
Rep. Ellmers: To the best of your knowledge has a man ever delivered a baby?
Sec. Sebelius: I don’t think so.
Chair: The gentlelady’s time has expired.