Fox host Neil Cavuto pretended that the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) ban on gender discrimination, which requires all policies to include maternity care coverage, was never "telegraphed" to the American people when the law was first discussed -- Cavuto is right, if you ignore repeated remarks made by President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and multiple media outlets prior to the bill's passage.
Under the ACA, all insurance plans are now required to cover maternity and newborn care, one of the law's 10 categories of 'essential health benefits' that every policy must include. The maternity care requirement puts an end to the systemic discrimination against women that pervaded the insurance industry. Previously, many companies charged women higher rates than men for the same plans and denied coverage or increased premiums for women who become pregnant, actions which the law prohibits.
Fox host Neil Cavuto referenced this requirement on the November 15 edition of Your World while discussing the ACA with MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. After Gruber explained the impetus behind the rule, Cavuto claimed that it "was never, ever" explained to the country until now:
GRUBER: The key thing is, if you want to end discrimination, for example by gender, if you want to say that women should not have to pay more than men for health insurance, then that means that everyone has to share the cost of maternity coverage. Now if you don't think that's right, that's a totally legitimate position to take --
CAVUTO: But that was never telegraphed. When all of this started, Jonathan -- that's fine, if you want to say that now though -- none of that was telegraphed, as was the fact that many people would lose their plans and many more would pay a lot more for plans. None of that was this Utopian view that you would do better by doing some good, maybe paying more, but in the net positive the country would benefit. That was never -- that was never ever said.
What Cavuto claims was "never, ever said" was said, repeatedly -- by the media, the president, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) cabinet secretary, all before Congress passed the ACA on March 23, 2010.
FactCheck.org laid out in August 2009 how the proposed ACA "bill itself specifies the 'minimum services to be covered' in a basic plan, including prescription drugs, mental health services, maternity and well-baby care." That same year, McClatchy reported how the ACA would end insurance companies' practice of treating gender and pregnancy as a preexisting condition, and would "require maternity coverage to be offered at reasonable rates." One month before the bill became law, ABC highlighted the fact that the bill "requires that all policies cover maternity care," a point The New York Times has also noted.
In a September 2009 speech before Congress on the need to pass health care reform, President Obama specifically cited his plan to end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and to require insurance companies to cover preventive care services for everyone. He even detailed the impetus behind these mandates -- what Cavuto deemed a "Utopian view":
PRESIDENT OBAMA: [U]nless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek -- especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions - just can't be achieved.
That large-heartedness - that concern and regard for the plight of others -- is not a partisan feeling. It is not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character. Our ability to stand in other people's shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand. A belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgement that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.
Prior to the ACA's passage, HHS released reports citing the fact that "the vast majority of individual market health insurance policies did not cover maternity care" as a reason health care reform was desperately needed. HHS Secretary Sebelius spoke repeatedly about the ACA's requirement that health plans "cover preventive services for everyone" and no longer discriminate against women.
Public knowledge of the ACA when it passed appears to have little consequence on Fox -- this not the first time the network has conveniently disappeared previous statements about the ACA in order to attack the president.