Women’s Voices Often Missing From The Health Care Debate

By Anna Gorman and Jenny Gold
Kaiser Health News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Discussion of health care shows some signs of becoming more open and bipartisan, perhaps bringing more women’s perspectives to the debate. But women are hardly speaking in unison.

Kaiser Health News

Women, in particular, have a lot at stake in the fight over the future of health care.

Not only do many depend on insurance coverage for maternity care and contraception, but they also are struck more often by such diseases as autoimmune conditions, osteoporosis, breast cancer and depression. They are more likely to be poor and depend on Medicaid, and to live longer and depend on Medicare. And it commonly falls to them to plan health care and coverage for their families.

Yet in recent months, as leaders in Washington discussed the future of American health care, women were not always allowed in the room. To put together the Senate’s initial version of a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., appointed 12 colleagues, all male.

Some members of Congress made it clear they don’t see issues like childbirth as a male concern. Two Republicans wondered aloud during the House debate this spring whether men should pay for maternity or prenatal coverage.

Two of the three Republican senators who killed the repeal bill were women. Though Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., got most of the attention, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voiced objections all along, including to plans to suspend Planned Parenthood funding. And for their opposition they were pilloried, even threatened, by members of their party.

Republican repeal efforts are stalled, for now, and the course for America’s health care system remains to be decided.

Many of the programs women depend on are still targets, especially Medicaid, which pays for about half of U.S. births. Some programs are already shrinking under the Republican-controlled government, for example, federal funding for teenage pregnancy prevention and research. States have been empowered to cut Title X family planning programs.

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