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Senator Apologizes for Joke About Losing Mammogram Benefits

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A Republican Senator apologized for joking about losing his mammogram benefits under the GOP’s proposed health care bill.

Congress is slated to vote on the bill, which would repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In an effort to drum up support for the bill, House Republicans proposed getting rid of the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits rule, which requires insurers to cover ten health services, including preventive care — like mammograms — for women.

Talking Points Memo asked Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas if he supported cutting the Essential Health Benefits rule. “I sure don’t want my mammogram benefits taken away,” he responded, according to Talking Points Memo.

Some female lawmakers slammed Roberts’ comments. Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier tweeted, “I don’t want to lose my prostate cancer screenings either.” Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee wrote:40,000 U.S. women will die from breast cancer this year. But Republicans think taking away coverage for mammograms is funny.”

Roberts apologized for his comments on Twitter later on Thursday. “I deeply regret my comments on a very important topic,” he wrote. “Mammograms are essential to women’s health & I never intended to indicate otherwise.”

[Talking Points Memo]

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Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com