The media is in an absolute tizzy over the website glitches in Obamacare. In fact, I keep getting breaking news emails with updates on the State of the Glitches (this isn’t an exaggeration). I admit: the Obama administration clearly messed up, big time, in their tech firm oversight. And it’s an undeniable concern that all the hype over the website’s flaws will lead people to give up and not try to sign up for the health care they need.
However, something about this relentless focus rubs me the wrong way. That’s why I got a righteous thrill last week when I read Zerlina Maxwell’s piece in Feministing putting her finger on my discomfort. She explains that relatively privileged journalists may be over-hyping the site’s functionality issues and missing the real news, which is that frightened, uninsured Americans are happy to doggedly wait out the website’s birthing pains until they can access the marketplace and breathe a sigh of relief. And again, that sigh is not because the site is working, but because they can get health care, a basic right.
For the most part, those covering the problems are insured themselves and consequently greatly underestimate the patience of a chronically uninsured person who has been counting down the days until Obamacare began so they could have a little piece of mind that if they got sick they wouldn’t be staring down bankruptcy.
For uninsured workers in the queue for the insurance exchange marketplace, having an affordable health plan means security, and opportunity: they are now more well-positioned to pursue their dreams and bolster the economy. That’s the purpose of a safety net, isn’t it?
Of course, there are major flaws in our healthcare system, not limited to the website’s functionality. The chink in the plan’s armor (thanks, Supreme Court!) that gets my blood boiling, rather than 404 error pages, is the fact that there are so many governors bull-headedly refusing to expand Medicaid in their states in accordance with the original plan.
Women were caught in the crosshairs of the government shutdown this week, which, as this much-shared stunt photo of a group of eight white male Republicans demonstrates, appears to be as much about testosterone and saving face as it is about helping America move forward.
Look into the causes for this week’s shutdown, and you’ll find dogged conservative opposition to women’s healthcare. And look at the current and future impact of the impasse — you’ll find women’s lives, particularly poor women and moms, will feel the brunt of the pain that the shutdown brings.
Of course, this giant mess is essentially a continuation, or maybe a culmination of the status quo: a several-years-long attack on public workers (largely women) and on reproductive health care. It would probably shock me more to hear that women and their health care were not being held hostage in a budget-related fight in D.C., but that doesn’t make the results any less devastating.
Around the 1992 election, like the political junkie-in-training I was, I walked around my grade-school wearing campaign buttons featuring the dynamic duo of Jewish female California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, plus new First Lady Hillary Clinton. It was the Year of the Woman, a historic moment for women in politics — and a backlash to the Anita Hill fiasco — that hasn’t been replicated since.
Last night’s election may be remembered as a similarly banner moment, an example of, as social media would quaintly put it, “revenge of the ladyparts.”
The story of last night begins with resounding defeats for some of the most extreme and obnoxious anti-women Tea Party type candidates: Todd “legitimate rape” Akin, Richard “God’s Will” Mourdoch, Joe “abortion is never necessary to save the life of the mother” Walsh and more. Even the shell-shocked folks on Fox News acknowledged that a lot of these races had been the GOP’s to lose, and the candidates’ outmoded, offensive — but deeply revealing — beliefs about gender, abortion and rape lost it for them.
But the losses for (“team rape”)[http://jezebel.com/5958480/team-rape-lost-big-last-night] were women’s gains. This widely-circulating photoset shows a montage of some of the amazing women who were elected or re-elected last night — 19, possibly 20 women in the Senate, a new high.
Last week, the preventative health measures of the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) officially went on the books.
This was the day feminists longed for and religious conservatives dreaded: the beginning of the end of co-pays for contraception as well as ob-gyn “well woman” visits, STD testing, domestic violence counseling and other preventative measures. It was the most excited I’ve seen the sexual health community in a long time — and I should note with a smile that as the rule change rolled into effect, the religious institutions that had been lobbying so hard against it remained intact. Satan was not unleashed. Hedonists weren’t having consequence-free sex on the altars of local cathedrals and synagogues. In fact, things remained pretty much the same, except thousands of women felt a slight lessening of their daily financial burdens. Case in point, a photo of a receipt for contraception with zero charge on it began to circulate.
But then again, the change was not as sweeping as some — including me – had hoped. After I dropped off my new birth control prescription, I went online and saw that bloggers and social media buddies had run to the pharmacy to pick up pills and discovered the same old co-pay. Why? First, because the “no co-pay” rules do not kick in for those of us on non-generic birth control. Second, they have yet to kick in for those of us whose plans renew in January. In other words, most of the working world.