A Republican senator has apologized for joking about mammograms while discussing changes to the GOP's ObamaCare replacement bill. The controversy began after TPM reporter Alice Ollstein tweeted that when she asked Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas about attempts to roll back the "essential health benefits" rule that requires insurers to cover benefits such as cancer screenings, he said, "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms." The remark drew a backlash from lawmakers, including Democratic California Rep. Judy Chu, who tweeted, "Cancer is no joke. Mammograms save lives. Same reason we pay for prostate exams," CNN reports.
"I deeply regret my comments on such an important topic," Roberts said in a statement, per the Kansas City Star. "I know several individuals whose lives have been saved by mammograms, and I recognize how essential they are to women's health. I never intended to indicate otherwise, and I apologize for my comments." GOP lawmakers were also criticized Thursday after Vice President Mike Pence tweeted a photo of American Health Care Act discussions with the House Freedom Caucus, the BBC reports. Critics were quick to point out that the 25 or so people pictured discussing issues including mammograms and maternity coverage were all men.