On July 25 SIAN members Marg Wildermann, Phyllis Harper, Mary Fleck and Pam Madaio met with Ms. Laura Turner at Seabrook Town Hall. Marg introduced us as members of SIAN. Laura was familiar with our group.
Marg started the discussion by raising health care issues, including cuts to Medicaid and loss of coverage for preexisting conditions. Laura tried to alleviate concerns about Medicaid by stating that cuts would only impact expansion states and therefore not South Carolina. We questioned this, expressing the view that current proposals strive to cut Medicaid overall. (As reported in the New York Times, both house and senate bills include provisions that are aimed to cut federal support for Medicaid by imposing caps.) Laura acknowledged that the overall goal is to cut costs, but did not agree that current proposals will ultimately impact SC Medicaid.
To reinforce positive actions by Mr. Sanford, Marg brought up his positions on environmental issues and expressed appreciation for his work on this topic. We offered that SIAN members would be supportive of future efforts by Sanford in this area and suggested that his office reach out to SIAN as appropriate.
Pam raised concerns about how Obamacare repeal bills will make it more difficult for women to access effective and affordable contraception. This was presented as an economic issue, with discussion about how unintended pregnancies are correlated with long term negative outcomes for both the mothers and their children. Laura expressed the stance that Sanford would likely not support any provisions for contraceptive coverage that would have cost implications. We countered with the argument that the negative outcomes associated with unintended pregnancies would be far more expensive in the long run, citing correlations with lower educational achievement and income, family instability, higher incidence of delinquency and mental health problems, etc. Laura was open to these ideas and said she would take them back to Rep Sanford. Whether linking this issue to economic implications will influence Representative Sanford remains to be seen, but it seems to be worth pursuing this approach in future conversations.
Mary took the lead on listing other concerns of SIAN members, among them voting rights. She highlighted the intent of SIAN to help recruit new voters by focusing on issues that would directly effect such voters. The goal was to deliver the message that SIAN will be working to recruit voters who care about the issues we raised in the meeting, and who would vote accordingly. It is worth continuing to make this point in any subsequent meetings to make sure the message is clear.
Marg closed the meeting by raising concerns about human rights issues, including human trafficking and increases in incarceration among women. Laura latched on to this topic and asked for background on the incarceration problem.
Marg followed up with an email to thank Laura for her time and provided information on female incarceration.