Female Democratic Senators Attack GOP Budget’s Harsh Toll On Women

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Female Democratic senators are returning to a tactic that served them well when Republicans threatened a government shutdown over federal funding of abortion. They’re making the case that the House GOP budget, and the male Republican legislators who are advocating its policies in debt limit talks with Democrats, are using the deficit as an excuse to pursue an anti-woman agenda.

“[T]hey have put one thing above anything else: cutting health care for women,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). “Last month they almost shut down the entire federal government in an attempt to cut off funding for health care programs for women and girls

Joining Murray were five of her female colleagues, and two male Democratic senators, Dick Blumenthal (D-CT), and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD). Together, they ran through a long list of ways the GOP budget undermines women.“If we end the health care bill, women will pay 30 percent more for insurance than men do,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the longest-serving female senator, noting that the GOP budget repeals the health care law, which ends gender discrimination by insurance companies.

Murray elaborated on this. “Under the Republican budget, insurance companies can go right back to denying care to women because of so-called pre-existing conditions — you know, conditions like being pregnant or being a victim of domestic violence,” she said. “Under the Republican budget, insurance companies can go right back to charging women higher premiums than men, which is especially problematic because the Republican budget would end Medicare as we know it and throw every single American woman into the private market at the mercy of insurance companies.”

“The majority of people on Medicare are women,” noted Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). And you can tell a similar story about Medicaid beneficiaries, who also stand to lose benefits under the GOP plan. “Two-thirds of [Medicaid dollars] go to seniors in nursing homes, and 77 percent of the people in nursing homes are women.”

Ultimately they argued that though all seniors will see their costs rise under the GOP plan, women will end up paying more.

“The median income of a senior woman is $14,430 a year,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). “The health care costs under the Republican budget for that woman would be $12,500. She wouldn’t even have $2,000 for the rest of the needs of her life. … This is really a sick proposal.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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