Does Obamacare discriminate against men?
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously told the American people that Congress needed “to pass the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] so that you can find out what is in it,” and with each passing day Americans are learning more and more about what their government has planned for them.
Among the many expressed frustrations of the new health care law’s opponents has been the addition of more unwieldy bureaucracies to the already bloated federal government. The massive law creates 159 new government agencies.
Of the many new boards, agencies, and programs the law creates, those implemented for the benefit of women are among the most common, a fact some say renders the law inherently unequal.
There are at least 7 new agencies and departments devoted solely to women while there is not one office for men or male specific ailments.
Men’s health advocates long have pushed for an Office of Men’s Health to act as a companion to the Office on Women’s Health, established in 1991. Instead of rectifying that disparity, the new health care law intensified it.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute, has been critical of Obama’s gender policies, charging that his administration has pushed initiatives that favor women over men. According to Roth, the health care bill was no different.
“[The women’s] lobby is very well funded, active and vocal. It is really paradoxical because women in many ways are doing better than men, so for example, if you do a search in the health care bill there is not one mention of ‘prostate’ and are over 40 mentions of ‘breast’ and men are tax payers, they should get equal health treatment,” Roth told The Daily Caller
Hadley Heath, health care policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, said that women got more consideration because it was politically expedient.
“Women came out big in 2008, and they were a very big voting bloc for [Obama],” Heath told TheDC. “Women as voters really care about health care, health reform because we often make decisions for ourselves, our families and dependents about health care. So clearly this is an issue that is important to women, women are important as voters to any politician.”
Roth stressed that the high number of women’s agencies and lack of corresponding men’s offices was not just a symbolic display of inequality, but one that would have real world repercussions, namely in the distribution of research funding.
“What is interesting is that all these offices for women in the health care bill, that generates grants for research of women’s health issues,” Roth said. “So it is not just that they have those offices, but those offices are accompanied by pots of money for research. So it means that they are skewing the research in favor of women over men.”
Scott Williams, vice-president of the Men’s Health Network, told TheDC that women have done a fantastic job raising awareness for their health concerns and have left men in the proverbial dust. Williams believes that much of the blame for the lack of focus on men lays squarely at the feet of, well, men.
“I think for years the women’s health movement and women’s health advocates have been a lot more effective than we have as men’s health advocates,” Williams said. “They certainly beat a louder drum than we do. So I think the onus is on us to make more noise but I think it is also a lack of awareness around men’s health issues in general.”
Williams added that while the current agencies are doing good work, men’s health needs more attention.
“People don’t understand that men on average live about 5 less years than women. That 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in their lifetime will be diagnosed with cancer. That men lead in 9 out of the 10 top ten causes of death. When you look at the data and the facts it is really not part of the debate in health care and I think those are statistics and facts that need to be brought to light,” he said.
But men’s health advocates are cheering any victory they can get. Williams said that one of the most exciting pieces of legislation passed this year was the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) because it created an Office of Indian Men’s Health to mirror the existing Office of Indian Women’s Health within the Indian Health Service. Advocates see the Act as the first step toward their larger vision of an Office of Men’s Health, which Williams believes would rectify some of the perceived neglect of the Obama administration towards Men’s health issues.
“The administration can easily fill this gap by creating an Office of Men’s Health at HHS, and should do so with the utmost speed,” Williams concluded.