Women’s Choice Clinic of Oakland, allegedly the oldest feminist health clinic, which has provided abortion and reproductive health services for 36 years, will be closing its doors. Due to economic trouble and slow Medi-Cal reimbursements, they are unable to pay their rent.
To balance the state budget, California has frozen payments for services already rendered, which was devastating for the Women’s Choice Clinic. Linci Comy, executive director, says, “If you’re on state funding, you deserve quality care. But where are you going to go?” Destiny Lopez, a member of Raising Women’s Voices advisory board, commiserates, saying, “Women’s Choice Clinic was a safe haven for underserved women, a place where women knew they would receive health care with dignity.”
Women’s Choice Clinic opened as a feminist clinic, meaning it was woman-centered and based on informed consent. It has served over 64,000 patients since opening in 1972. The clinic is known, among other things, for its work with teens, the lesbian, gay and transgendered population, women for whom English is a second language, and women on state aid or without insurance.
As a medical center, the clinic is required to keep health records for seven years, and clicnic workesr are in desperate need of space.
If you have any office or storage space, or know of someone who might, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
President Obama has signed an executive order formally creating a new White House Office of Health Reform. The new and somewhat small team is charged with the goal of expanding and improving health insurance coverage throughout the United States. Former Clinton administration official Nancy Ann De Parle has been appointed to oversee the office. She will have wide latitude, and not be required to testify on Capitol Hill.
For the executive order click here
Our very own Byllye Avery has a blog.
Avery, M.Ed., is the Founder and President of the Avery Institute for Social Change and Founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project (Imperative). She combines activism and social responsibility by developing a national forum for the exploration of health issues of African American women.
Check out her blogging here!
Follow that bus!
The Purple Bus is criss-crossing the country educating and empowering voters. Their last stop was Greensboro, NC, to discuss pre-existing conditions with White House Health Reform Czar Nancy Ann De Parle. Next stop: Montgomery, AL.
It looks as if gender-based pricing in healthcare coverage is not going anywhere in Connecticut.
Hartford-based Aetna, as well as many other companies, base rates for individual policies partly on gender, causing women of child-bearing age to be charged more than men. NorthStar Asset Management Inc, a firm that performs socially responsible investing, and which held 4,520 shares in Aetna as of December, asked Aetna to publish a report about their rating practice.
Aetna declined, as well as declining to put the report to a vote on its agenda. They claim they have already addressed the issue in their policy paper, accessible on their website, noting that men aged 50-55 use more medical services and therefore pay higher rates than women.
The proposal to publish a report, or put it to a vote, would not have required any change in Aetna’s rating system.
For more information, click here
In a recent LA Times piece, Ezra Klein dissects the different healthcare “waiting lines” we have in the US compared to those in Britain and Canada. Based on language and location, they are the countries we compare ourselves to most frequently.
While countries such as Sweden, France and Japan have a mix of private and public options, we tend to focus solely on comparing ourselves to Canada and Britain, countries in which the government sets a budget for how much will be spent on healthcare that year, and the system subsequently figures out how best to spend it.
Surveys in Britain and Canada show a larger percentage of those who wait for elective surgery, compared to a minimal number in the US. But before we pat ourselves on the back, many more in the US report skipping visits to the doctor or filling prescriptions because of costs, which ultimately skews the number who wait for surgery: why wait for something you can’t afford?
Currently our Medicare system costs are rising rapidly, being run by providing funding based on what is deemed “reasonable and necessary”. Last week House Republicans proposed a budget providing checks for enrollees equal to the Medicare benefit, effectively setting a budget as Britain and Canada do. However, instead of figuring out how service can match the allocated funds, enrollees will spend what they have, and pay out of pocket for, or simply not receive, care after that.
For a full illustration of international waiting lines, see the article here
Ezra Klein has written a great piece in The American Prospect recently.
It outlines, in easy to understand terms, the debate about a public insurance option. Klein describes what the public option means, and how this can unfold in one of three ways: single-payer lite, the level playing field plan, and the catch-all. A must-read for easy to digest information.
Oftentimes with a small support system, little money, no documents and language barriers, illegal immigrants struggle in the United States with both access to and cost of healthcare.
On Tuesday, Mariana de la Torre, 28, died back in Mexico. She made headlines after coming to the US illegally and using an imprisoned woman’s identity to receive over $500,000 worth of care after discovering she had cervical cancer.
Last month, insurance executives announced a willingness to stop charging higher premiums–or denying coverage altogether–for those with pre-existing conditions or other health problems. However, it was made clear that this practice would be dependent on Congress requiring everyone in the US to carry health insurance, which is still many months away. Karen Pollitz, project director at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, laments, “Under the current system, the people who need insurance most can’t afford or can’t get coverage.”
In the meantime, the New York Times outlines some guidelines for what to do when you are already sick:
1) Keep your employer’s coverage (if possible). Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), employers cannot charge more for your coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. Be aware that new employees may be denied coverage for treatment related to pre-existing conditions for up to 12 months. But if, under an alternative group plan, you have had continuing coverage, this may be applied to the 12-month period. If you have had a gap of 63 days or more, you can be denied a full 18 months, after which you are entitled to full coverage.
2) Learn your state’s rules. Federal law mandates that each state offer an individual option that cannot deny anyone coverage, as many individual plans deny those with pre-existing conditions. Find out what’s available at your state at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Unfortunately, the government does not regulate premiums, and cost can be somewhat of a problem. You can appeal your denial from a cheaper individual policy with the help of a doctor.
3) Seek alternate group coverage. Small business owners may be able to receive insurance through the chamber of commerce. Or several small businesses may come together for group purchasing alliances.
4) Be aware that insurance companies can rescind coverage. If applying for individual coverage, companies can rescind based on your failure to provide accurate information. Especially if you wind up getting serious treatment, even citing treatment for a canker sore months prior to developing mouth cancer as evidence of a pre-existing condition. Be ready to appeal with your doctor if necessary.
5) Watch out for temporary coverage. Temporary coverage, anywhere from a few months to a year long, seems like a good alternative, especially for those out of school or between jobs. But if you become sick, you will likely have trouble renewing because you will then have a pre-existing condition.