Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a working group of 13 senators is drafting a new healthcare bill to replace Obamacare. All of them are men.
The healthcare bill working group is composed of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
When questioned by reporters Tuesday, McConnell denied there was any exclusion of women at the table. However, some of the most powerful women in the Senate had already noticed – and commented – on the situation.
McConnell asserted that all 52 Republican senators were at the table.
Some of the female senators, see it differently.
“Women's health is a big part of this and women are a majority of the population, and their health interests deserve to be contemplated in any reform, "Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said on NBC’s "Meet the Press."
Fellow California and Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris echoed the sentiment.
"The GOP is crafting policy on an issue that directly impacts women without including a single woman in the process. It's wrong," she tweeted on May 6.
The GOP is crafting policy on an issue that directly impacts women without including a single woman in the process. It’s wrong. https://t.co/digJ8qXKr2
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 6, 2017
Democrat Sen. Patty Murray of Washington tweeted: "It matters to have women at the table – and it matters when they aren't."
When women aren't at the table, we're on the menu. https://t.co/pEVjxZWr9I
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) May 5, 2017
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is the co-author of her own healthcare reform. She is working with Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy.
Collins does not support the House version of the bill.
"So much discretion is given to the states without any guardrails," she said on ABC's "This Week."
"The Senate is going to start from scratch," she said. "We're going to draft our own bill and I'm convinced we're going to take the time to do it right,” she told host George Stephanopoulous on the May 7 broadcast. “I have a lot of concerns. It's difficult to assess the new House bill because we still don't have a CBO analysis of the impact of coverage and costs. And those are key questions.”
In the Senate, Collins and fellow Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are centrists whose votes could make or break the bill.
And, they both have experience in healthcare policy. Murkowski has been a member of the Senate health committee since 2007. Murkowski and Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, recently introduced legislation to better provide maternity care in Alaska. Collins has a record of supporting healthcare programs, particularly for rural areas. Collins and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire co-chair the Senate Diabetes Caucus.