Saturday, September 26, 2009

Healthcare Reform and Women

Why would you want to send Jon Kyl your baby picture? The National Women's Law Center wants to use baby pics to make a point...

Kyl, an Arizona Republican and Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow were recently discussing in the Senate Finance Committe the mandates that all health insurance policies cover certain benefits. Apparently Kyle finds the requirement burdensome.
KYL: "I don't need maternity care."
STABENOW: "I think your mom probably did."
Senior Editor Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic said he was "hard-pressed to think of a single exchange that better captures the sensibilities of our two political parties--or the principle of shared risk upon which universal coverage is based."
True, but this exchange also spotlights the issues of women's health as they relate to healthcare reform.

Our status quo
  • U.S. ranks 42nd among nations of the world in maternal mortaility rates -- highest among industrial nations. For African American women maternal mortality rate is three times that for white women.
  • Maternity benefits are frequently excluded from healthcare insurance.
  • Women frequently pay higher premiums than men for the same coverage. Also, group plans predominantly composed of women workers pay higher premiums than groups composed predominantly of men workers.
  • Reproductive health services are often not covered.
  • More women than men are either uninsured or underinsured (45% of women compared to 39% of men.)
  • Because of our lower average wager, women pay a higher share of income than men for health care.

What can we do about it?
In addition to making it easy to write to one's senators, Planned Parenthood says "you can do your part to set the record straight on health care reform by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper, or simply by talking with friends, family, or co-workers."

The Nation issued its call to action about a month ago, saying the best hope is to lend support to groups who are actively fighting for reform like the National Women's Law Center, Moms Rising, and the National Parnership for Women and Families, who have published an excellent, accessible policy brief.
Three-quarters of American women support healthcare reform and you're probably one of them. Have you told everybody know how you feel?

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