U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas too often thinks he’s a witty old sage on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, however, the 80-year-old Republican made a reprehensible comment about women and health care.
As debate raged in Washington about a controversial GOP health care bill, news emerged about one possible ugly way to sell it to conservative House members: scrap the required “Essential Health Benefits” that insurance policies must cover. They include doctor visits, lab tests, hospital stays and other services.
Here’s where Roberts comes in.
Alice Ollstein, a reporter at Talking Points Memo, said on Twitter she ran into the Kansas senator at mid-day Thursday. (Her online story on the encounter noted that Roberts didn’t even know what he was talking about regarding mammograms.)
I asked Sen. Roberts if he supports scrapping Essential Health Benefits. "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms," he snarked. #AHCA
— Alice Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) March 23, 2017
That led to understandable outrage from a number of people, including two of Roberts’ congressional colleagues: U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier and Barbara Lee, both California Democrats.
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) March 23, 2017
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) March 23, 2017
About two hours later after Ollstein’s tweet, Roberts apologized on Twitter.
I deeply regret my comments on a very important topic. Mammograms are essential to women's health & I never intended to indicate otherwise.
— Pat Roberts (@SenPatRoberts) March 23, 2017
But let’s face it. The damage had been done. Some on Twitter attacked Roberts while others made good points about the obtuseness of Roberts’ remark.
@AliceOllstein Apparently, Sen. Roberts has no female constituents — nor does he realize that men can get breast cancer.
— Anita Creamer (@AnitaCreamer) March 23, 2017
Here’s an excerpt from Ollstein’s story on that fact:
— Surprise_Island (@Surprise_Island) March 23, 2017
— Allan Brauer (@allanbrauer) March 23, 2017
— Sharon M (@ssminore) March 23, 2017
And let’s end with a very good question:
@AliceOllstein why do people in Kansas keep electing Republicans after all they've done to that state?
— Damnatio Memoriae (@RightSaidDead) March 23, 2017