After last Saturday's passage of the Democratic health care bill, we congresswomen want to state strongly why we feel women should oppose the plan.
In American families, women make most health care decisions, whether helping a parent, caring for a child or nudging along a spouse. We spend two of three health care dollars.
In fact, women are the overwhelming majority of professional health care providers: 98 percent of home care aides, 90 percent of nurses, the majority of first-year medical students and a third of doctors. The time when medicine was predominately a man's field is receding into history, no more relevant to health care today than bloodletting or leeches. Yet, in all the debate about legislative changes to health care, few politicians have bothered to ask women what they want.
As congresswomen, we think we should be listening to and speaking out for women.
If Democrats in Congress and the administration had been listening to women, they would not have drafted and passed a reform bill that takes power away from women and gives it to federal bureaucrats. Today, we, women - working with a trusted medical professional - guide which treatments are best for our family, from flu shots and hormones to heart stents and long-term care facilities. If H.R. 3962 ultimately becomes law, these decisions will increasingly be made by bureaucrats, statisticians and actuaries.
The Pelosi health care plan aims to have an impartial, all-knowing federal government make decisions that cannot be trusted to mere housewives (and their greedy, small town doctors).
Yet, is there any evidence that the federal government can make good medical decisions? The administration is having trouble administering the H1N1 vaccine program; what makes the White House think the government will be able to administer the nation's health care system? H1N1 vaccine is being delivered late; there's not enough available; and doctors are rationing shots - it's a preview of what a national health insurance program will look like.
The Affordable Health Care for America Act is nearly 2,000 pages, longer than Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." It creates 118 new federal bureaucracies.
The bill uses the word "shall" 3,425 times. These "Father Knows Best" passages are government mandates that force doctors, consumers and others in the health care profession to do what Congress orders. The word "penalty" is used 113 times for those who don't follow orders. "Tax" is referred to 97 times.
A survey in mid-October of women voters by a nonpartisan research group showed that most women are satisfied with their own health care insurance (66 percent) and with their current medical providers (74 percent).
The survey respondents (32 percent Republican, 40 percent Democratic and the rest independents), had grim news for those that want to see a "public option" and more aggressive role by the federal government:
c Seventy-seven percent of women said making cuts to Medicare was a bad idea.
c Seventy-five percent want few to no changes to their own health care.
c By 2 to 1 margins, women said federal administration of health care would increase costs and lower quality.
c Sixty-four percent of women said they personally would rather have private health insurance than a government-run plan.
While we recognize that health care reform is necessary, the plan passed out of the House runs counter to the wishes of most women in America.
There are better ways to reduce health care costs and provide more affordable options for the uninsured. The Republicans in Congress have proposed a number of improvements that would have reduced medical costs, increased options and empowered families to make their own choices about health care.
But our common sense steps to improve health care were not adopted by the majority. Now the legislation moves to the Senate, where the debate will continue.
Should we trust the federal bureaucrats or women across the country to make health care decisions? Ask your mother, your daughter, your wife or your sister.
Listen to what she has to say.
Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Cynthia M. Lummis of Wyoming, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida are Republican members of the United States House of Representatives.