For 27 hours this week, members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee debated the future of Obamacare.
But there’s one moment in particular that really seemed to make time stand still.
It came during a spirited interaction between Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) of Collinsville.
Doyle inquired on the record as to what Obamacare mandate Shimkus had an issue with.
Shimkus responded by asking, “What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” He followed up with “…is that not correct? And should they?”
Soon after, the moment began to gain traction on social media with posts and headlines criticizing Shimkus. Some accused him of lacking basic knowledge of biology and anatomy.
In a follow-up phone interview with Five on Your Side on Friday, Shimkus said he was referring to the individual marketplace.
He said that he doesn’t believe individual people should be required by the government to pay for services they don’t need.
“Using the example of a young 24-year-old, let’s get them into the market and chose a policy. Whatever that policy is should be restrained by what the government says has to be in tehre,” Shimkus said.
When asked if he felt he should apologize for his comments, Shimkus doubled down.
He said he’s been talking about this very thing for years. He even offered another example: “Why should a woman have to pay for a man’s prostate?”
But NARAL Pro-Choice America and its local chapter call the remarks shocking and out-of-touch.
“These things aren’t okay. They’re ignorant and offensive. This congressman is obviously not serious about replacing the Affordable Care Act,” said Alison Dreith, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.
Dreith argued that preventative coverage for things like prenatal care benefit everyone and save taxpayers money in the long run.
She also said that Shimkus and the Republicans lack a general understanding of how the current insurance pool work. She said everyone pays in for people who are sick now because they could be sick or need help next year.
“We’re not waving our arms saying why are we paying for men’s Viagra or prostate exams,” Dreith said.
Under Obamacare, it is required that all health plans cover certain personal health matters, including pregnancy and childbirth.
But Shimkus said premiums are so high under the ACA, that many people would rather be penalized for not having coverage. He said the GOP plan intends to get those people back into the marketplace to drive down costs.