ACA Repeal – Why Does Congress Ignore the Female Factor?

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Having women in health care reform makes sense for a number of reasons. But, so far, women have had limited access to the legislative process underway to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I, for one, think that should change.

What’s Happening in Congress

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed 13 men to serve on the working group for health care reform. These men are charged with improving the particulars of the bill passed by the House of Representatives that intends to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Some say they will completely rewrite the controversial bill. Whatever route they take, they will be refining or re-inventing what is known as the American Health Care Act, also known as Trumpcare.

The Backlash to Ignoring Women in Health Care Reform

Democrats and women’s rights activists are criticizing the Republicans for creating a group without women. After all, women represent half the population, and many aspects of the proposed bill affect women’s health. Putting women in health care reform seems like a logical step. McConnell and his colleagues in the working group argue that women are not excluded. Instead, they insist that the working group is just representing the entire Republican party in the Senate, which includes women.

What Issues Are at Stake?

For argument’s sake, let’s set aside what is happening with the working group. Instead, let’s focus on each health care issue on the table and decide whether it will affect men, women, or both genders.

  • Pre-existing conditions

This is one of the big points of contention among average citizens. The Affordable Care Act made it illegal for insurance companies to deny people coverage for a pre-existing condition. Constituents are fighting like mad at town hall meetings to make this a certainty in the new bill, too. There are questions about whether reversing the mandate will make this possible. Regardless, men and women and their children have pre-existing conditions, so this touches everyone.

  • Higher premiums

One of the biggest criticisms of the ACA is the skyrocketing premiums. Indeed, it is an issue that must be addressed whether a new health care bill comes to pass or not. The costs of health care, including premiums, are issues that concern both men and women.

  • Rising costs of health care and pharmaceuticals

Again, everyone’s wallets are influenced by the rising costs associated with health care, so men and women need to give feedback.

  • Planned Parenthood

Politicians long ago politicized funding for Planned Parenthood, a health care provider and educator that mostly treats women. The organization provides birth control, testing for STDs and cancer, mammograms, check-ups, sex education, and abortions, often to the most vulnerable communities. Republicans, for the most part, take issue with the birth control and abortions, even if abortions are reportedly a small part of the group’s work. As a result, Planned Parenthood has become a political football. The AHA could partially defund Planned Parenthood. This issue affects women more than men. They should have a say in what happens to the organization, which ultimately relates to what happens to the health care of many women.

  • Birth control

Under the ACA, birth control became free to all women who had prescriptions. Republicans want to return to charging people for birth control. Already, they have taken issue with the fact that employers of a certain size are required to provide health insurance to employees and therefore are inadvertently providing birth control, too. This subject affects women more than men, so they should be able to share their thoughts.

  • Pregnancy

There’s no question that coverage of pregnancy is a woman’s issue more than a man’s. The optics of having only fathers at the table is just bad branding for the GOP. Who are these men to make such huge decisions about women’s bodies? Let the mammas have their say.

  • Jimmy Kimmel Test

The Jimmy Kimmel test refers to whether new health care reform will protect newborns with potentially fatal complications. It is named for comedian Jimmy Kimmel, whose son was recently born with a potentially fatal heart problem. As a result, Kimmel pleaded with lawmakers on behalf of those who might not be able to afford the costs of the life-saving surgeries and care his son received. He said that Americans pretty much all agree that a baby’s life should be saved whenever possible regardless of how much his or her parents earn. Technically, moms and dads and therefore men and women should be concerned with this. Really, everyone should.

Another Reason Women Should Be in the Working Group

Women make teams better, stronger and smarter. I’m not just ranting about girl power here. Science supports me. Studies show putting women on your team enhances the collective IQ of your group. Professors Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone and their team administered standard intelligence tests to a group of people ages 18 to 60. Then, they randomly put them into teams to complete a series of tasks, including solving a complex problem. The teams with the highest individual IQs did not fare much better than the others, according to a Harvard Business Review article in which the duo defends its findings. What was most interesting is that the teams with more women were more successful.

“The standard argument is that diversity is good and you should have both men and women in a group. But so far, the data show, the more women, the better. ”

Professor Anita Woolley

Pay attention, lawmakers. And consider more women for your working group on health care. Granted, the professors admit that their research indicates that an all-women team would not be as successful either. You still need some diversity. But, as you can see from the graphic, which is based on the HBR story on the research, the teams with no women fell below average. The GOP can’t afford to fall below average as it sets out to reform our health care.

My Proposal

McConnell should have a working group composed of seven women and six men. Women have more at stake, and they can improve the quality of the team as demonstrated in the results of this study.

McConnell has plenty of women to whom he can turn. There are 21 women in the Senate. Five of them are fellow Republicans.

One of those Republicans is Susan Collins (R-ME), who has been working on health care reform for some time now. She continues to work on an alternative plan with Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA). Ultimately, bringing women into the debate might also be a way to bridge the partisan divide that currently exists. Indeed, McConnell could be a hero if he agrees to including women in health care reform. Wouldn’t that be appropriate?

After all, the health care of millions of American women and everyone else is on the line. We’re all counting on them to do the right thing.

Michaeline Daboul

Former President, CEO, Co-founder of MMIS, Inc.

A mother, wife, sister, friend, mentor, and entrepreneur, I'm passionate about helping entrepreneurs build successful companies with people who are humble, hungry, and smart. I would enjoy hearing from you and hope you find inspiration and value from this site.


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