Women on Capitol Hill seem to be mad as hell when it comes to health care and they’re not taking it anymore. This week, women Senators and members of Congress started speaking out collectively about the lack of interest and, perhaps, the lack of respect that women’s medical issues are getting in the health care reform debate.
First, there were the astounding comments from Senator Jon Kyl who believes that because he doesn’t need maternity care that it shouldn’t be in health care policies that men pay for.
Then there was Senator Orrin Hatch trying to slip one past us by proposing that no insurance companies — not even private policies purchased with private dollars — should provide coverage for any abortion procedures. And let’s not forget the SEIU report that was recently released that revealed that eight states and the District of Columbia allow insurance companies to exclude coverage for domestic abuse injuries as pre-existing conditions.
That’s just the tip of the information iceberg I heard in a recent press call with Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz.
Then on Thursday, the Democratic women of the Senate stood together to express their collective outrage about how we could possibly be at a point in America where it’s acceptable for us to turn our backs on basic, fundamental coverage for women’s health:
One story that Senator Amy Klobuchar shared on the floor of the Senate that didn’t make it into the video is one of the best examples of what women can do to help change the prevailing attitudes and practices of health insurance companies. When Klobuchar’s daughter was born with some medical issues, new mom Klobuchar was forced to leave the hospital after only 24 hours, even though she had not only given birth, but then had to immediately start working with doctors to assess her newborn daughter’s condition. When legislation in her home state of Minnesota was introduced to guarantee that a new mother would have at least 48 hours in the hospital after giving birth, debate on the bill suggested it would be voted down.
On the day of the vote, she accompanied half a dozen visibly pregnant women to the hearings, where they made their presence and their voices known.
The bill passed.
So the lesson of the day when it comes to male-dominated legislatures (state or federal) writing and voting on laws that directly impact us is this — speak out.
Keep speaking out. And speak out some more.
Sooner or later, someone is going to hear us and we can make change happen. It’s not easy. If nothing else, they’ll have to vote on legislation we want with us in the room, as with Senator Klobuchar and her group of pregnant political moms!
I was sad to see that none of the Republican women joined their Democratic sisters on the Senate floor to speak out on women’s health care. Maybe there’s just too much political heat at the moment, but I’m hoping that at the end of the day (are you listening Olympia Snowe??) that their women constituents will call on them to do the right thing so that insurance companies can no longer deny women coverage for purported pre-exisiting conditions or charge us more for the exact same coverage as men.
I might be going out on a limb here, but I’d wager a little money that Senator Kyl’s wife and daughter might have a slightly different view on keeping maternity care out of health care reform. Maybe we could recruit them?