The Obama administration nominated Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for the top position at the Department of Health and Human Services this week. Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Director for Health Care for America Now, praised the choice, “Governor Sebelius has an outstanding record as an advocate for health care consumers in Kansas and is a great choice to help President Obama achieve his goal of quality, affordable health care for everyone in 2009.”
Personally, I am happy to see a woman in a position of authority on health care, especially a woman who was an avid consumer advocate. For more than 10 years, marketing studies have shown that women are the health care decision makers in families. Polling also shows that women prioritize health reform as a way to address the economic crisis. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “though women are more likely than men to have health coverage, both insured and uninsured women are more likely than men to report difficulty obtaining health care because of cost.” In their report “Women and Health Coverage: The Affordability Gap” they point out that:
On average, women have lower incomes than men and therefore have greater difficulty paying premiums. Women also are less likely than men to have coverage through their own employer and more likely to obtain coverage through their spouses; are more likely than men to have higher out-of-pocket health care expenses; and use more health care services than men and consequently are in greater need of comprehensive coverage.
Kathleen Sebelius was able to really listen to the people of Kansas, and in spite of conservative opposition, she heard her state ask for protection from the insurance companies and relief from high premiums. As the Insurance Commissioner in Kansas, “She is credited with bringing the agency out from under the influence of the insurance industry. She refused to take campaign contributions from insurers and blocked the proposed merger of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest health insurer, with an Indiana-based company. The decision by Sebelius marked the first time the corporation had been rebuffed in its acquisition attempts.” Then as governor, she was a champion for women’s health and decreased health care costs for thousands of people in Kansas.
That is what we need in Washington–someone who is willing to stand up to lobbyists and conservative attacks on comprehensive reform that will provide a guarantee of quality, affordable health care for all. As we know, the lobbyists are gearing up for the fight, and I happy to know we have a strong woman with a record of standing up to them in our corner.
By Levana Layendecker, Online Campaigns Director, Health Care for America Now