Rep. Blackburn Pens Convoluted Essay On Mothers And Health Insurance

October 23, 2009 11:34 am ET — Melinda Warner

In a new Politico op-ed, Rep. Marsha Blackburn tries (and fails) to promote the idea of free-market health care for America's mothers.

Tennessee Congressman Marsha Blackburn wrote an interesting op-ed for Politico. In it, she argues that, due to their in-depth involvement with their families' overall health, mothers are the real health care experts.

Rep. Blackburn remarks,

"However, women are not self-interested actors worried solely about their own coverage. They are the primary health care decision makers for their families. They are not powerless consumers but market drivers who have genuine concerns about the entire system of care."

That's not an entirely true statement.  Yes, women are concerned with the health care their families receive.  But to say they have a great deal of influence over the state of the family's coverage is misleading.  The Joint Economic Committee found that of all the women who lost their health coverage because of the recession, 68% did so because their spouse became unemployed.  There is no power for the thousands of women who are dependent upon another's employment for coverage.

So while mothers do have some ability to make everyday health care decisions, for the most part they are at the mercy of the private health insurance companies just like everyone else.

Blackburn goes on to assert,

"The women I know treat their role as family decision maker as a sacred trust. Women who are often simultaneously caring for young children and elderly parents are simply unwilling to surrender that control to public option bureaucrats in Washington who they don't believe are attuned to their needs. They are right to resist."

Well, yeah.  That's why we've seen so many mothers take their experiences to the press - so others don't have to go through the same heartache.  These women are resisting the cruel bureaucracies of the private insurance industry that treats families like liabilities instead of like human beings. 

Rep. Blackburn's column oversimplifies and distorts the health care debate as it relates to mothers.  She's correct in that mothers are concerned about the health of their families, but she is incorrect in saying that the private insurance system is the best way for American mothers to ensure their families have adequate health coverage. 

Private insurance corporations have been given the chance and has clearly failed American families.  It's time to level the playing field and allow mothers to truly care for their children, spouses, parents, and selves through the purchase of a guaranteed policy through the public option.