Nancy Pelosi: GOP Health Care Plan Would Make ‘Being A Woman A Preexisting Condition’

WASHINGTON ― Republican leaders are eyeing last-minute changes to their health care bill in order to attract votes from conservative lawmakers, including removing the requirement that insurance companies cover maternity care for everyone.

Before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, the insurance market was a bleak place for women. They often had to pay more than men for the same coverage. Only 12 percent of individual market plans covered maternity care. And it was completely legal for insurance companies to refuse coverage to women who were pregnant or might become pregnant in the future.

One of the ACA’s most celebrated features is that it attempted to fix this gender disparity. It created a list of 10 essential health benefits that all plans on the marketplace must cover. Pregnancy, maternity and newborn care are on that list. It also said that insurance plans must offer contraception at no cost, along with breastfeeding equipment and services. 

These features would likely go away if the band of conservatives known as the House Freedom Caucus gets to change the GOP health care bill, the American Health Care Act, in the way that it wants. These lawmakers want to get rid of the 10 essential health benefits, which could lower premiums, and it’s a concession that President Donald Trump has reportedly said he would agree to. 

Indeed, the White House has said publicly that it doesn’t like these benefits, citing mandatory maternity care in particular.

“A 54-year-old doesn’t need certain things. They don’t need maternity care,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last week. “They don’t need certain medical services that are being provided to them by this government product that is being forced on them right now.”

Democrats are hitting back hard on these potential changes. 

“[Eliminating] essential health benefits means Republicans are making being a woman a preexisting condition,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday. “Again, stripping guaranteed maternity care is a pregnancy tax, pure and simple.”

Republicans have long opposed the idea of making insurance companies cover benefits like maternity care. 

In 2009, during the debate over the Affordable Care Act, then-Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) argued, “I don’t need maternity care, and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.” 

“I think your mom probably did,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) shot back. 

More recently, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said it wasn’t fair to make men “purchase prenatal care.”

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) also seemed skeptical of the whole idea of essential benefits on Thursday. 

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

(For the record, mammograms also test for breast cancer in men.)

The way insurance works is that everyone pays into a system so people are able to get money when they need it. You may never have cancer, but your insurance payments are helping to cover people who will. Women don’t have prostates, but their insurance premiums help fund men’s prostate cancer screenings and treatments.

“We shouldn’t allow insurance companies to say men’s health care is basic health care, but women’s health care is not,” Stabenow recently told The Huffington Post.

Experts also worry that if insurance companies are given the option of offering expensive services like maternity care, it will become a race to the bottom where that coverage, once again, becomes scarce.

And even though nearly half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, women would have to purchase this maternity coverage months in advance of being pregnant ― otherwise it could be considered a preexisting condition for which insurance companies could deny coverage.  

Want more updates from Amanda Terkel? Sign up for her newsletter, Piping Hot Truth, here.

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Dunkin’ Donuts Dumps The Coffee Coolatta, Basically Ruining Everything

Those who found reliable refreshment in the Coffee Coolatta may be in for a long hot summer.

Dunkin’ Donuts announced it is discontinuing the frozen coffee beverage.

The phaseout will be completed by summer while the chain introduces the new Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee, which provides a more “authentic, energizing coffee drinking experience,” a Dunkin’ Donuts official told The Huffington Post via email on Thursday.

The new drink is concocted with “a special extract that contains Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend coffee, blended with ice and dairy,” said Chris Fuqua, senior vice president of marketing.

Fuqua told a media gathering earlier this week that the reason for the Coffee Coolatta’s retirement is that it “isn’t good enough.”

It wasn’t a dieter’s dream, either. Rated by HuffPost as one of the worst fast-food coffee drinks for your health, a large Coffee Coolatta packs 540 calories (860 with cream) and 102 grams of sugar. 

But the decades-old menu staple has its fans, as Twitter can attest. Yes, there were tears.

My actual reaction to finding out @DunkinDonuts is replacing the coffee coolatta with the garbage that is Frozen Coffee #SaveCoffeeCoolatta

— ShipMasterFlex (@KidNamedShippee) March 23, 2017

@DunkinDonuts will say goodbye to its frozen coffee Coolatta…..” #RIP

— Anyssa Buchanan (@anyssab24) March 22, 2017

so Dunkin’s getting rid of coffee coolatta ? what did we ever do to you ? @DunkinDonuts

— anna (@aninha_babyx3) March 23, 2017

When I see that @DunkinDonuts is getting rid of the coffee coolatta

— MBW (@MattWaters9) March 23, 2017

I don’t go to Dunkin’ often (see: ever), but when I do, it’s to order a vanilla Coolatta and stave off imminent death.

— Amanda E. Newman (@AmandaENewman) March 22, 2017

FIRST OF ALL, HOW DARE U.⚡️ “Say goodbye to the Coffee Coolatta”

— Jenn Coello (@jennpaola) March 23, 2017

Literally the only thing I ever got at Dunkin’ Donuts

— Olivia (@poppedaollie) March 23, 2017

Saddened to hear that the Coffee Coolatta will be taken off Dunkin Donuts menus later this year. RIP Coolatta (1994-2017). Good run

— Nicky Yoenis (@Nick_Oldack) March 23, 2017

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Wall Street’s Trump Trade Panic Already Over

Waking to the fact that the death of RyanCare won’t kill tax cuts or regulatory reforms, cooler heads are prevailing on Wall Street.

Comedian Nick Swardson Got Matching Tattoos With A Member Of *NSYNC

Sometimes you party with someone so well that you need to solidify that love with matching tattoos. Or better yet, tattoos that complete one another.
On “Conan” this week, comedian Nick Swardson tells host Conan O’Brien that, …

Schumer: Democrats Will Filibuster Gorsuch

WASHINGTON—Senate Democrats will attempt to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on Thursday during a speech on the Senate floor.

Amy Lee Promises You’ll Like The New And Very Different Evanescence Album

Amy Lee has lent her powerhouse vocals to quite a few projects over the past year or so. She released a family album, put out some solo music and recently recorded “Speak to Me” for the new movie “Voice From the Stone,” starring “Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke.

You can now add a new Evanescence project to that growing list. According to the frontwoman, it’s going to sound like nothing you’ve heard before. Expected out later this year, the album will be the group’s first since 2011’s self-titled studio effort.

“It’s not just a straightforward next Evanescence album, but it’s something else. So manage and prepare yourself for what you’re waiting for to be something different,” the songstress told The Huffington Post during Build Series.

Lee says she always wants her sound to evolve. This new album will represent forward momentum for the band, which formed in 1995 and has gone through several iterations, with Lee remaining the steady force on piano and vocals.

“I had this crazy harebrained idea, like, two years ago and finally I have all the people around me that are like, ‘Let’s make that happen,’” she said.

Lee has been on the road with the band over the past few months and in their down time, they’ve carved out time to write and record new music. When pressed about what to expect, Lee remained tight-lipped, only saying, “It’s not quite the right time to tell you exactly what it is.”

Inspiration for new songs can come at any time for Lee, who says she uses the voice note function on her phone to record melodies and lyrics.

“Songs come from all places. With Evanescence sometimes, it happens with me at the piano, feeling feelings. Other times, it’s Will [Hunt] on the drum kit coming up with some really cool rhythm,” she said.

Before the album arrives, Evanescence will tour overseas, with concert dates lined up through the summer.

“We are really just enjoying each other and enjoying what Evanescence is. Everybody is in sync with each other, there’s more interaction just for fun, enjoying the old songs even the ones I wrote … when you’re in a completely different place in your life as a teenager … I think the older I get and the more I go through, the more I appreciate what this really is in my life,” she said. “I’m really, really proud of the band and everything that’s survived because so many times it wold have been easier just to walk away. I think we’re playing live better than we ever have.” 

And as for that next album? 

“You’re going to go with it,” she said. “You’re going to like it, I promise.”

Watch the full Build interview below.

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The Full ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Trailer Is A Dystopian Nightmare And A Call To Action

“I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen,” Elisabeth Moss (as Offred) says in the official trailer for Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” an update to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic, out next month.

“When they blamed terrorists and suspended the constitution, we didn’t wake up […],” her voiceover continues. The trailer shows a montage of familiar images: protestors crowding streets, religious fundamentalists bluntly saying their piece.

Margaret Atwood, the author of the 1985 book that the show is based on, has already drawn comparisons between the beginning of her story and current affairs in America. In a letter distributed by PEN America in Januaryshe cautioned against “dictators of any kind”; this month on Twitter she agreed with a fan who wrote that The Handmaid’s Tale novel doesn’t seem “unrealistic.”

Then, the story takes a turn. Abruptly, women are dismissed from their jobs and members of targeted groups try to flee the country on foot. Those women who don’t make it out are assigned as surrogates to couples who aren’t able to conceive, made to wear uniforms, and forced to have sex with certain men.

Whether the show sets out to directly compare its dystopian themes with today’s political climate, for some readers ― and for the story’s author ― the similarities are ripe for picking.

Catch the trailer above. “The Handmaid’s Tale” debuts April 26 on Hulu.

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Poll Shows Huge Opposition to Ryancare’s Medicaid Cuts

Eighty percent of swing-voting independents, and 54 percent of GOP voters, oppose cuts to Medicaid proposed by the GOP’s Ryancare plan, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Poll Shows Huge Opposition to Ryancare’s Medicaid Cuts

Eighty percent of swing-voting independents, and 54 percent of GOP voters, oppose cuts to Medicaid proposed by the GOP’s Ryancare plan, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.