Politics

Why people are outraged over that all male 13-member health care Senate panel

Criticism on the GOP’s replacement for Obamacare mounted immediately after the House narrowly passed its bill on Friday. Actions by Republican leadership have given those critics – especially those voicing concerns for female health issues – more fuel.

Most recently, the Senate unveiled a 13-member panel – all of them men – that would craft a Senate version of a health care bill to replace Obamacare. It’s the latest issue in a series of gender-based criticisms of Republican actions on health care.

Pre-existing conditions have been at the center of the debate around the House Republican health care plan, dubbed the American Health Care Act. The compromise passed would still allow insurance companies to deny coverage based on pre-existing health conditions, but provided an $8 billion pool to help cover those people, called high-risk pools. Some have said that amount is grossly inadequate, including Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“These low-risk pools, they’re not funded, $8 billion is not enough, it’s ridiculous,” Kasich said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We can do with less resources, but we can’t do it overnight. You can’t give people a $4,000 health policy. You know where they’re gonna be? They’re going to be living in the emergency room.”

Those pre-existing conditions include health histories specific to women, such as a past pregnancy or being an expectant mother. Other problems, such as menstrual irregularities or being the victim of rape or domestic violence, can make it harder to purchase an insurance plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Some states do ban health carriers from discriminating against victims of abuse, according to CNN.

In light of those issues, when President Donald Trump hosted a celebration of the House’s passage in the Rose Garden on Friday, him being surrounded by a predominantly male audience earned some criticism. In one widely circulated photo of the gathering, a BuzzFeed video producer photoshopped the face of Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., onto all the faces of the men surrounding Trump. It was retweeted more than 100,000 times and liked more than 200,000 times.

Also on Friday, Bloomberg reported that the Senate had formed a 13-member working group to come up with a health care plan that would pass the Senate. All 13 Republican members are men.

“Lots of questions here, including this, why couldn’t they find one woman to represent the concerns of 126 million female adults in the United States of America?” CNN’s Erin Burnett asked on her show “Out Front.” “What can they realistically bring to the table when the conversation turns to, let’s just say, childbirth, maternity leave, ovarian cancer or breast cancer?”

There are five Republican female senators in the current Congress, and some have called for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, or Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to be added to the group.

An aide to one of the Republicans on the health care panel told CNN’s Dana Bash that they weren’t interested in “playing the games of identity politics.”

“We’ll work with any member of any background who wants to pass a health reform bill that will reduce premiums and take away the burdens that Obamacare inflicted. To reduce this to gender, race or geography misses the more important point of the diverse segments of the conference the group represents on policy – from members who support Medicaid expansion, to those opposed to it, to those who have called for a long-term full repeal.”

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