Opinion: Senate Republicans couldn’t bother to find a single woman to help overhaul health care

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (R) holds a news conference with people who
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), right, speaks at a news conference with people who may be negatively affected by the proposed American Health Care Act, the Republicans’ attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, outside the U.S. Capitol on March 9, 2017, in Washington, DC.
(Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

I know there aren’t that many women in the U.S. Senate. Just 21 of the 100 U.S. senators are female, and probably some of them had other plans. But still, couldn’t Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) find one woman to join the 13 men on his Obamacare overhaul posse? Just one?

True, most of the women in the Senate are Democrats and would probably be annoying about pap smears, mammograms and Planned Parenthood. They might also point out that the Republican’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act will invariably affect women. Women have a higher rate of poverty than men.

But there are a handful of Republican women in the Senate and surely there’s one willing to put her signature on legislation that could pull the healthcare rug out from under millions of Americans.

Sen. Susan Collins, for example. The Republican from Maine would have been an obvious choice seeing as how she has some expertise as a former state insurance regulator and some interest in healthcare reform. She and another senator came up with their own health care reform bill earlier this year.


I’m not advocating for Collins, simply pointing out that even with a willing, informed Republican woman on hand, McConnell didn’t see the benefit of gender diversity in his healthcare working group.

A token is no substitute for true representation, but it is at least an acknowledgement that diversity has value. Not being worried about the optics of a baker’s dozen of middle-aged white men (yeah, I know: Sen. Ted Cruz is Latino. He’s also white. It happens) hammering out a proposed healthcare overhaul that could have dire effects on women and people of color indicates they are not even pretending to care.

Fortunately, whatever proposal McConnell’s team works out will need votes from women to get passed in the Senate. Wouldn’t it be easier to work through them now, rather than in last-minute negotiations?


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