Fathers have rights… and responsibilities

If you think providing maternity care to women who are covered by health insurance is a no-brainer, you’d have been surprised to listen to the debate that developed over the topic Tuesday on the Assembly floor.

It seems that many Republicans believe that adopting mandates – even something as basic as AB 98’s requirement that individual policies include maternity services — is simply going too far. Currently, group policies cover maternity care, but individual policies purchased by people such as the self-employed, don’t necessarily provide such coverage.

“These mandates increase health care costs for everyone,” argued Audra Strickland (R), a former teacher and mother of two who is a member of the Assembly Health Committee.

And Republican Anthony Adams stood to say that men shouldn’t have to pay for a service for women.

Oops. Did someone forget that, generally speaking, men play a role in the process that results in a baby? And that fathers, as well as mothers, are deeply invested in seeing their children born healthy?

Anna Marie Caballero (D) countered that women in the insurance risk pool pay a share to cover prostate cancer, and so men should not complain about pitching in to cover maternity services. “Women and children deserve the same quality of care as men,” Caballero said.

AB 98’s author, Hector De La Torre (D), estimated that individual policy holders would face a $7.17 increase if maternity care were mandated – saving the state budget a substantial sum by shifting the costs of uninsured services to consumers.

“We need to end this disparity,” De La Torre said, of the difference in coverage from group policies and individual policies.

Democrats prevailed, and voted 41 to 23 (preliminary vote tally) to pass the bill out of the Assembly and send it to the Senate.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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