Where are the ladies at?
The future of health care in the U.S. hangs in the balance, but there's no need to worry. After all, we have top men working on it right now — emphasis on "men."
As the House of Representatives works on crafting a replacement to the Affordable Care Act, the internet couldn't help but notice just how overwhelmingly male the bill's architects seem to be.
For example, take this photo of Vice President Pence meeting with members of the House Freedom Caucus:
I helped https://t.co/lGcVu1o3Hi— Emmy Bengtson (@Emmy Bengtson)1490294835.0
Women make up half the population and will almost certainly feel the effects of whatever bill gets passed "bigly," which makes it kind of weird that there aren't any women involved in this conversation.
A group of men deciding what's best for women makes about as much sense as leaving these types of choices in the hands of...
1. This ferocious beast
2. A bundle of twigs
3. A litter of puppies
4. A single ripe banana
5. A flock of seagulls
6. A Flock of Seagulls (the band)
7. A pile of pencils
8. The 1973 Miami Dolphins
9. These hardworking deer at the office
10. A rock band of grandmas
11. This business pug
12. This elephant on a tightrope
14. A child riding a farm animal
15. A small fish with big ambitions
16. These rebellious children
17. A bowl of mashed potatoes
18. This family trying to make sense of a hospital bill
19. Or a pool floaty.
(If only there were some women in Congress who could have been consulted...?)
Leaving women out of the negotiation process is especially egregious given that one of the main issues being discussed in that photo above was whether to gut things like maternity and prenatal care.
The Affordable Care Act considers these services "Essential Health Benefits" (EHBs), a term that includes things like maternity and prenatal care as well as preventive care like mammograms and Pap tests and, you know, just a bunch of things that pretty directly affect a whole lot of women.
Earlier this month, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Illinois) lamented the fact that EHBs mean men have to purchase plans that cover prenatal care. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) sarcastically joked, "I sure don’t want my mammogram benefits taken away," when asked about the possibility of scrapping the EHB requirement. (He later apologized.)
Essential Health Benefits are way important, people! If we're going to be redefining what "essential" means, that debate has to be open to more than just a handful of guys.
Over the coming days, weeks, and maybe even months, our members of Congress are going to be considering things like this (and much, much more). And while there's nothing we can do to influence who's in "the room where it happens," we can all use our voices in other ways. For instance, you can call your representative to let them know they should leave EHBs alone, using a service like 5 Calls. Or you can fax your members of Congress using Resist Bot to let them know you're not on board with a plan that will bump as many as 24 million people off their insurance.
It's up to all of us to make our voices heard. After all, if you're not OK with the business pug making decisions about your health care, then what makes a room full of men any more qualified?