Rep. Paul Broun Fears Obamacare Will Turn Him Female

What Women Really Think
April 9 2013 12:03 PM

Rep. Paul Broun Fears Obamacare Will Turn Him Female

143020203
A still-male Paul Broun greets Alec Baldwin

Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Ovation

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun received a flurry of headlines for a strange comment that seemed to imply that the Affordable Care Act will be requiring gender reassignment surgery for everyone, or perhaps just for congressmen from Georgia. As reported in the Huffington Post:

Amanda Marcotte Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

"I don't want to pay for a sex-change operation," Broun told town hall attendees, presumably referring to a proposal, scrapped by the Obama administration late last month, that would have allowed gender confirmation surgeries to be covered under Medicare and Medicaid. "I'm not interested. I like being a boy."
Advertisement

The comment is being compared to a similar one made by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, to justify his opposition to same-sex marriage: "I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one." Chambliss is also from Georgia, suggesting that perhaps Georgia needs to create a program educating its politicians about the difference between being allowed to do something and being forced to do it. 

Of course, while it's always entertaining watching Republicans confuse the words can and must, the real story is being lost in the cackling coverage: Broun is running around Georgia lying to the voters about what the Affordable Care Act is all about. The original story reported in the Barrow County News puts these comments into context, saying that Barrow was criticizing the ACA for "covering hair transplants and sex change operations." But there's no way that the ACA could do that. The legislation is not like the National Health Services in Great Britain, where everyone is insured by a single payer run by the government. It's a giant set of regulations that is aimed at making sure that most Americans are insured through private insurers.

It is true that under the ACA, insurance companies must meet minimum standards of coverage, but if that's what Broun was referring to, then he's still mistaken. The ACA's language banning gender discrimination does seem to cover transgendered people, but the law specifically does not require gender reassignment surgery as minimum coverage. The HHS is blunt on this point:

Does this mean that transition related surgery is required to be covered by health insurers?
No.

Of course, individual insurers can choose to offer this coverage if they want to, but that was true prior to the passage of the ACA. Under the Georgia conservative transitive property that turns can into must, therefore, Broun should have gotten his mandatory gender reassignment surgery decades ago. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.