Campaign 2010

Nov 13, 2009

Sessions Stands Behind Remarks that Women are Like Smokers

Pete Sessions Stands Behind Remarks that Women are Like Smokers and Insurance Companies Should Charge them More


One week has passed since NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (TX) made controversial remarks defending the insurance industry’s practice of charging women more than men for health insurance by equating being a woman to being a smoker. Yesterday his office provided their first public response to the controversy in a statement to the Dallas Morning News that stood by the comparison.


“We scoured the statement provided by Representative Sessions’s office about his insulting remarks to look for the phrase ‘I was wrong,’ but found nothing,” said Jesse Ferguson, Southern Regional Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “I guess it’s hard too hard for him to criticize his patrons in the insurance industry for charging women more than men for the same health insurance. For Representative Sessions and the GOP leadership, being a woman is a pre-existing condition worthy of discrimination but, increasingly, for women across this nation being an extreme Republican is a pre-existing reason to vote for someone else.”




  • Through a spokesman, Representative Pete Session’s responded to the controversy surrounding his “women comment” in a statement of support for his original position and accusations at those raising these concerns. [Dallas Morning News, 11/12/2009]


  • At last week’s House Rules Committee debate about health insurance reform, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions responded to a question about women paying more for health insurance than men by saying, "Well, we're all different. Why should a smoker pay more?" [Courthouse News, 11/6/2009]


  • The controversy surrounding Representative Sessions comparison of women to smokers and his endorsement of discriminatory practices in the health insurance industry have been widely reported. [Politico, 11/9/2009]


  • Representative Pete Sessions has taken over $400,000 from insurance industry contributors. [Open Secrets]


  • "Striking new evidence has emerged of a widespread gap in the cost of health insurance, as women pay much more than men of the same age for individual insurance policies providing identical coverage, according to new data from insurance companies and online brokers." [New York Times, 10/30/2008]






PALLONE: Why should a woman pay more than a man?

SESSIONS: Well now. We’re all different. Why should a smoker pay more than a non-smoker?

UNIDENTIFIED: So a woman should pay more than a man?

SESSIONS: All I’m trying to suggest to you is if there are actuarial tables.