Wed, June 26

Letter: Time to let the women take charge


It’s time to pull the plug on the testosterone governing Washington.

In 2013 TIME Magazine ran a story by Jay Newton-Small documenting the actions of Republican and Democratic women coming together to stop the shutdown of the government.

According to Newton- Small, most of the Senate’s 20 women had gathered the previous night for pizza, salad and wine in the offices of New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.

All the buzz that night was about Maine Republican Susan Collins’ plan to reopen the government with some basic compromises. The next day, Collins went to the Senate floor to do two things that none of her colleagues had yet attempted.

She refrained from partisan blame and proposed a plan to end the crisis. “I ask my Democratic and Republican colleagues to come together,” Collins said on Oct. 8. “We can do it. We can legislate responsibly and in good faith.”

Senate Appropriations Committee chair Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, happened to be standing nearby, and she soon picked up a microphone and joined in. “Let’s get to it. Let’s get the job done,” she said. “I am willing to negotiate. I am willing to compromise.”

Ten minutes later, a third Senator stood to speak. “I am pleased to stand with my friend from Maine, Senator Collins, as she has described a plan which I think is pretty reasonable,” said Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. “I think it is pretty sensible.”

After the disastrous results of 13 male Senators behind closed doors working on a health care plan for all Americans, it’s now time to turn the health care issue over to the women in the Senate. Why? Because the women get it. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation report from May, 2011, women have long been the undisputed family health care decision-makers, making approximately 80% of family health care choices, choosing their children’s doctors (85%), taking them to appointments (84%), and ensuring they get recommended care (79%).

In short, they are the researchers, networkers, and hands-on care advocates. They do this for their partners, too, and over one in 10 women are taking care of an aging or chronically sick relative, often a parent.

In the Senate on Monday, July 17, it was 3 women Senators who had the courage to say NO to the proposed health care plan that would decimate coverage for the sick, the poor and the elderly. They understand.

Thanks to Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Shelley Moore-Capito for their courage and to Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan for the courage to share her story of her 29 year old son with Cerebral Palsy who would be unable to receive the care he needs without Medicaid.

So now it’s time for Senate leadership to turn healthcare over to those who really understand it and are willing to work in a bipartisan way. From both sides of the aisle, summon the women to get the job done so that Americans have a health care system based on people, not numbers, based on care, not cruelty.

There are 21 women Senators – I’ll bet they can do what 13 men behind closed doors could not.

Barbara Litrell