Monday, September 22, 2008

I was thinking over the weekend about the presidential race. I was talking to someone at work about how we don't feel that Obama has really reached out for our support and that stuck with me. Why do I feel this way and what would it take to change it.

I thought about all the news and commentary I've been reading, about how in some regards Obama and McCain's policy directions and positions aren't always that far apart. So I thought some more... what did I care about as a woman? What would make me feel more excited about Obama and his "pro-woman" agenda? Here's what I came up with:

Work with Congress to pass the late Stephanie Tubbs-Jones Fibroid Research and Education Act. This has been stalled out in committee for years and yet it is so needed. Fibroids affecting between 25-80% of all women (and their families), and a disproportionate amount of women of African-American descent. This would be great for women and it would also be a nice gesture in remembrance of Tubbs-Jones legacy.

Work to better support women who want to breastfeed
Breastfeeding and working is a hard deal, not impossible but surely challenging for the best of us. Greater flexibility in working arrangements, possibly thought family leave, could help more women be able to offer their children this best start in life. Since Obama says he's for preventative health care, this is the best preventative care option around. (see the Breastfeeding Promotion Act)

Provide mandatory access to optional supplementary insurance plans to cover infertility treatments
After trying so long for my own child, I was lucky enough that my particular condition (fibroids) fell within the purview of my health insurance coverage. Also, I was able to conceive on my own after a good stint of work with alternative care providers. Many couples aren't so lucky and for them assisted reproduction is the best path towards achieving a successful pregnancy yet most health insurance plans don't cover these treatments. The plans themselves would be optional and supplementary, sort of like how you can get a catastrophic plan in case of disability/dismemberment. Since insurance is currently handled on a state by state basis, federal plans would have to be put in place to incentivize the creation of these plans. See Family Building Act of 2007

Expand support for small businesses to offer childcare benefits
I looked into it for our business and there is a federal tax break for offering a childcare benefit but it wasn't that comprehensive. Perhaps the tax break is enough but additional support for how to structure the benefits could go a long way to helping more families out. (see Employer-Supported Child Care and Starting Early Starting Right Act)

How about increasing support for HeadStart programming?

Expanding surviving widows to claim a greater portion of their deceased husband social security?

I'm going to keep thinking of other things that might fall on my women's agenda. Add your ideas as well -- what can the government do to help you meet your priorities?

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