American women are paying close attention to the health care debate, and no wonder. After all, the majority of mothers report that they are the prime health care decision makers for their family, and women account for over half of all workers in the education and health services sector.
Unfortunately, the various ObamaCare proposals winding their way through Capitol Hill contain provisions which could prove harmful to women's health care options -- and their bank accounts.
For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) recently unveiled package contains, among other sundry provisions, an excise tax on elective cosmetic procedures -- "equal to 5 percent of the amount paid for such procedure," which is expected to raise $5 billion over a decade to help pay for Reid¹s plan.
According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), however, women accounted for over 9.3 million cosmetic surgeries in 2008; almost 92 percent of the total. It is little wonder, then, that some are wondering if the "Botox tax" is sexist. As one blogger writes on the feminist site Feministe, "women are under extreme pressure to maintain a particular physical appearance -- to look young, thin and attractive -- it seems a little unfair that women are inundated with messages that we need to constantly improve our physical appearance, and then taxed when we take steps to do just that."
Unfortunately, the cosmetic surgery tax isn't the only proposed health reform measure that would adversely effect women's pocketbooks. The Nancy Pelosi-ushered House version of ObamaCare, for example, would impose an income tax surcharge that will "certainly hit many small business owners -- who pay business taxes through their personal-income tax forms," according to Grace-Marie Turner, president of the non profit Galen Institute.
Women-owned companies now account for 28 percent of all businesses, many of which would doubtless see their earnings curtailed as a result of this and other ObamaCare taxes and mandates.
ObamaCare proposals also contain drastic cuts in Medicare, which would fall especially hard on elderly women. The House version, for example, contains almost half a trillion in cuts to future Medicare spending which could lead to reduced benefits and fewer health care options for our seniors, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, "More than half (56%) of all Medicare beneficiaries are women; among the oldest old (ages 85 and older), 70% are women."
Medicare cuts and new taxes are in these bills for a reason health care overhaul as envisioned by President Obama and Democratic leaders would be enormously expensive. Congress is under extreme pressure to find creative ways to pay for reform because of the Obama administration¹s pledge that the president will "will not sign a plan that adds one dime" to the deficit, and that health care reform must "bend the health care cost growth curve down."
Unfortunately, some worry that this drive to "bend the cost curve down," may lead to reduced or rationed care, including for women. The recent recommendation of the federal Preventive Services Task Force that women under fifty get fewer mammograms did nothing to assuage those fears.
Women are rightly concerned about the rising costs of health care in America. But we should all be wary of "cures" that could be worse than the disease. If enacted into law, ObamaCare would effect women as mothers, workers and patients -- and not always for the better.
Matt Patterson is a policy analyst for the National Center for Public Policy Research and a National Review Institute Washington Fellow. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.