McCain was recently asked about a point raised by Carly Fiona about birth control and Viagra. Unfortunately for McCain, he did not handle the situation very well.
Carly Fiorina has been employed by McCain to help him win the votes of women. She recently said that “there are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won’t cover birth-control medication. Those women would like a choice.” Fiorina certainly seems to imply that she supports having insurance cover birth control medication. However, John McCain voted against a bill that would do just that.
McCain has been relying on the fact that many women do not know his actual voting record and positions on many key issues. However, this incident is wearing away that illusion and exposing the reality. It is rather ironic that Fiorina, who has been hired to sell McCain to women, has helped expose McCain’s actual record.
Of course, politics is the art of illusion. As such, it is hardly shocking that McCain is trying to be all things to all voters. What seems to be hurting him more is the way he handled the situation. Rather than acting in a decisive manner, he seemed baffled and confused about the matter. He claimed that he could not remember how he voted because he has voted so many times.
While people obviously forget many things, McCain should know his own principles and how he would have voted on such a matter-even if he cannot recall the bill in question. Even if he honestly had no idea how he voted, he should have been able to handle the question better.
Of course, everyone has bad moments and a single event should generally not be taken as defining a person. To use an analogy, it would be a mistake to judge a person’s abilities as a runner based on one really bad race. Similarly, McCain should not be judged solely on this incident. Of course, it does become another piece of information that should be used to assess his capacity to be a good President. After all, it would be good to have a President who clearly knows his own principles and can, at the very least, handle a surprise incident with skill and grace.
In addition to the matter of McCain, there is also the matter that started this: if Viagra is covered by insurance, then should birth control be covered?
The answer is clearly “yes.” One argument against covering birth control is that birth control is a matter of lifestyle choice and not (in most cases) a matter of health. Of course, this same argument could be applied to Viagra. Both Viagra and birth control seem to be lifestyle drugs. A person takes Viagra to be able to have sex and a person takes birth control to be able to have sex without becoming pregnant. In general, neither is needed for health. Unless, of course, one considers having sex to be important for health. If so, they are still on roughly equal footing.
It might be countered that Viagra is different because it simply restores a natural function that is lacking. In this regard it could be seen as analogous to a hearing aid or a pair of glasses. in contrast, birth control does not restore a natural function or correct a problem. It simply prevents a natural function from taking place.
This argument does have some plausibility. Naturally, the argument would justify covering birth control in the case of women who needed it for clear medical purposes rather than simply to avoid pregnancy. However, this would be a very small number of women.
It can be argued that insurance does cover treatments and medicines that are designed to enhance or preserve quality of life and that this would justify coverage of birth control. For example, a person might be on blood pressure medicine to keep her blood pressure from increasing further. In the case of birth control, it could be argued that it is a medicine that enables a woman to maintain a desired quality of life. As such, it would be a preventative medicine. Of course, this would seem to imply that pregnancy is in the same category as diseases and such.
Another argument that can be employed is this: if Viagra is covered and it is justified because men should be able to chose to have sex, then birth control should also be covered because it enables women to chose not to become pregnant. If men need to have sex and hence Viagra should be covered, then women can argue that they also need to be able to avoid getting pregnant and hence birth control should be covered.
I also think that running shoes and race entry fees should be covered by insurance on similar grounds.