Women and the Elections: What's at Stake?

Love it or hate it, we're in the home stretch of election season and we'd better start thinking about how we're going to vote. Especially women and the men who care about them. Why bother? Congress is in gridlock, the president's popularity is at an all-time low, and it looks like nothing will change.

Don't bet on it.

Take Obamacare. Republicans in the House have voted to repeal it so many times the press has lost count -- it's somewhere between 50 and 60. Republican candidates are campaigning hard on the issue, once again promising to overturn the law if elected. (Don't think it couldn't happen. Obama would almost certainly veto any such bill, but think long-term. The groundwork would be laid for the next Republican president.)

In two of the closest races, GOP standard bearers are trying to make it a single-issue contest. U.S. Representative Cory Gardner, challenging one-term Senator Mark Udall in Colorado, is a one-note candidate touting Obamacare:Udall as the bogeyman. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is also using this playbook in Kentucky, claiming policy cancellations in his state are the fault of Obamacare. But according to the New York Times, they are in fact business decisions by insurance companies, and unrelated to deadlines under the law.

I know, I know, statements were made that if you liked your health insurance you could keep it. And those statements were true for all but a tiny fraction. But some policies are getting canceled by the insurance companies because they're below standard now. In other words, folks with subpar coverage were paying too much for too little, and Obamacare no longer allows that. Besides, a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that over 60 percent won't see any premium increase. Many others who have to change will be getting subsidies to help foot the bill.

If Obamacare haters gain control of the Senate, and the system is weakened or goes away entirely, how would that affect women and families?

Let me count the ways. 2014-04-01-yourvoicesmallest3.JPG

First and foremost, the government would no longer have any control over what insurance companies can and can't do. The much maligned "big government bureaucracy" would have to hand complete control back to the for-profit insurance bureaucracy. Nice, eh?

Under Obamacare, women can't be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. If it goes away, insurance companies can once again declare such things as a past Caesarean, having acne as a teenager, or being the victim of domestic violence a pre-existing condition.

Under Obamacare, women get preventive services like mammograms and birth control without deductibles or co-pays. So if the system is repealed, get ready to pay up.

Speaking of paying, before Obamacare, insurance companies could and did charge women more for the same coverage men got for less money -- a practice called "gender rating." Wanna go back to that?

In pre-Obamacare days, some insurance companies refused to provide maternity coverage at any cost. Now they must offer maternity coverage -- but that could flip along with the Senate if conservatives win at the ballot box.

So watch how you vote. If you don't, it could be bad for your health.

Listen to the 2 minute radio commentary here: