Having trouble fitting a health policy discussion into your holiday plans? Still want to get together with friends and send your ideas about health reform to HHS Secretary-Designate Tom Daschle? Here’s a fun way to do it!
Raising Women’s Voices staff partnered with colleagues to organize a special version of the community health forum. On December 17th, at the monthly Reproductive Health Happy Hour in New York, 35 young activists gathered, in true community meeting style, to share their thoughts with Tom Daschle. Check out the video!
We thought the country’s next health czar might be too busy to join us, so we brought our own cardboard cutout of a smiling, fashionable Tom Daschle, complete with a Raising Women’s Voices button. Over sodas, juices and some fun holiday drinks, we asked the following questions: What do you want to tell Tom Daschle about how to fix our broken health system? What are your biggest health care concerns? Why is reproductive health care critical for health care reform? See what these activists had to say!
More Americans have reached their lifetime benefits caps on their health insurance policies due to the rising health care costs. The reason why is treatments for organ transplants, rare blood diseases, chronic illnesses, or cancers are expensive. As a result, health insurance companies are no longer providing coverage to the people who need them the most.
To read more, please visit: http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=56092
A recent blog, called “Un-Expecting,” shares a woman’s experience from the day she found out she was pregnant, the day of her abortion and even up to the days post-abortion. The abortion actually already happened on December 15th. However she continues to blog about the days after her procedure, a period usually overlooked by others. She includes a post titled “Not Guilty,” describing her feelings about her abortion after the act, as well as a post with a check list for the day of the abortion for other women Although her posts are short, she includes important details of her experience, letting others, who are still deciding, know what to expect and what side effects are normal and more importantly, for the women who are going through the same process, right now, to not feel so alone at such a vulnerable time.
To check out this blog, please vist: http://myabortionblog.tumblr.com/post/64974351/today-is-the-day
Jeff Goldsmith attempts to predict the future of healthcare with Daschle, based off a close analysis of Daschle’s book Critical: What We Can Do about the Healthcare Crisis, published earlier this year. Goldsmith summarizes the new adminstration’s strategy into “speed, simplicity, and alignment with congressional health policymakers.” Furthermore, Goldsmith acknowledges Daschle as the “first major national political figure to acknowledge publicly the crucial connection between the politics of the mandated benefit and the affordability of universal coverage.” In addition, Goldsmith believes essential health issues “could be punted to the Federal Health Board, which could take at least eighteen months to get organized and report to Congress on how to structure the benefit…buy[ing] Obama time for the economy to recover…”
To read the full article, please visit: http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2008/12/15/daschle-what-can-we-expect-of-the-health-czar-in-waiting/#more-475
Our Bodies Our Blog’s December 17th daily chat is now avaiable to watch at your leisure. The topic was “What will the Future (of Sexual and Reproductive Rights) Look Like?,” which included issues such as unplanned pregnancies, abortions and the restrictions of the Hyde Amendment.
To listen to this informative discussion, please visit: http://www.ourbodiesourblog.org/
The Philadelphia Inquirer continues its series, “Falling Through: Casualties of the Health Insurance Crisis,” with its newest installment focusing on the prevalence and consequences of lifetime benefits caps, which are included in more than half of all employer-sponsored coverage plans. While such a policy claims to be in the interest of responsible allocation of resources such that an employer can cover a greater number of workers, it also means that people with serious illnesses are more likely to max out their lifetime benfits allowance. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report summarizes:
The Inquirer profiled a 44-year-old woman who lost her job after she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After 16 months of paying for COBRA insurance, she was informed that she no longer would receive coverage because she had reached her lifetime maximum coverage of $2 million, according to the Inquirer. The woman has more than $16,000 in medical debt and cannot afford private insurance. In addition, she does not qualify for Medicaid and will not be eligible for Medicare until November 2009 because of a two-year waiting period imposed for disabled disability benefits
Stories like this one really serve to remind us that we’re dealing with people, here, not just products or numbers on a computer screen. As trite as that sounds, it is something that our policymakers need to hear. The current system in which insurance companies operating with a bottom line mentality have free range is not something we can stand by and allow our elected officials to condone. This is why now is a crucial moment and I urge you to take action and make your vision for health care reform part of the Obama team’s plan.
And go to http://change.gov/page/content/discusshealthcare and scroll down to add your comments to the discussion.
On Friday, the Vatican released a document condemning artificial fertilisation, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning and drugs which block pregnancy from taking hold. Stating that all human life is sacred at every stage, the Vatican opposes use of the “morning after” pill, which blocks the action of certain hormones to prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, categorizing such a practice as “within the sin of abortion.”
Don’t worry though, ladies, because the document goes on to clarify:
“There are those who say that the moral teaching of the Church contains too many prohibitions. In reality, however, her teaching is based on the recognition and promotion of all the gifts which the Creator has bestowed on man: such as life, knowledge, freedom and love,” it said.
Mmm, yes, freedom. I certainly trust my freedoms in the hands of an institution that only months ago reasserted a ban on female priests, excommunicating women who attempted to become priests as well as those who helped perform, or were complicit in, their ordination.
“I ask you now prayerfully to allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with the wisdom and understanding that will enable you to accept it,” Bishop Anthony M. Pilla [of Cleveland] said of the teaching. He insisted, as has the Pope on many occasions, that the limitation of priesthood to men is not meant to diminish the equality or dignity of women.
These are the kinds of decisions that are made when women aren’t at the table to make their voices heard. And some will say that this is a different ballgame, that this is not about government and policy, but something more than that which discussion of politics cannot touch. But it remains that, regardless of who or what their beliefs are in the name of, these are men making decisions about the rights and nonrights of other people.
In recognition of the 60th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, The Lancet dedicated four pieces in its December 10th issue to discussions of why health should qualify as a human right and be recognized as such, not only by new legislation and government policy, but through public discussion and advocacy.
I’ll cover the rest of The Lancet’s pieces in subsequent posts, but first, Amartya Sen makes her argument for why health, rather than health care, should be a human right, stating:
“The policy question points to the important fact that good health depends on health care, and health care is something that we can legislate about. But good health does not depend only on health care. It also depends on nutrition, lifestyle, education, women’s empowerment, and the extent of inequality and unfreedom in a society. A human right can serve as a parent not only of law, but also of many other ways of advancing the cause of that right. Even the fulfilment of the first-generation rights (such as religious liberty, freedom from arbitrary arrest, the right not to be assaulted and killed) depends not only on legislation but also on public discussion, social monitoring, investigative reporting, and social work.”
The right to health has similarly broad demands that go well beyond legislating good health care (important as that is). There are political, social, economic, scientific, and cultural actions that we can take for advancing the cause of good health for all.”
These kinds of discussions are valuable and need to be happening more in our news media and public discussion. When most Americans hear the term “human rights” their eyes cloud over with visions of far off lands where people are struggling to get by with little recognition of their hardships, for which the government denies any responsibility. Sound familiar? The term human rights needs desperately to enter our lexicon of discussion about the reality millions of uninsured and underinsured women, children, low-income people, and people of color are facing each day in their battles with sickness and the American health care system.
Tom Daschle is going to be the Obama Administration’s “health czar.” He’ll be the one in charge of getting federal health care reform and he needs to hear from us!
Join us at a special edition of Repro Health Happy Hour, where, cocktail in hand, you can tell Tom what kind of health care reform YOU need.
What do you think Tom should know? What are your biggest health care concerns?
Want to make sure he knows that we need reproductive health care?
We’ll gather your thoughts and submit them to the Obama Transition Team. We’re registered as an official Community Meeting, so Czar Daschle himself might be joining us!
Wednesday, December 17th, 6-9pm
Tom and Jerry’s Bar
288 Elizabeth Street, NYC
Hope to see you there!
Lois Uttley blogged today over at RH Reality Check about the opportunity for access that the Obama transition team is giving women like you and me all across the country to the future Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Daschle. Regardless of whether you voted for the President-elect — and perhaps particularly if you did not — the opportunity to make your voice heard on the kind of health care reform you want to see in the next four to eight years is an obligation that each and every one of us should step up to in the coming weeks leading up to the inauguration of the new administration.
As we’ve blogged about before here at RWV, the Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle announced December 5 that President-elect Obama’s transition team will hold a series of community forums about health care later this month to help finalize its recommendations for the incoming administration.
The “Health Care Community Discussions” are modeled on the platform committee meetings held by Obama during the presidential campaign and are designed to give the transition’s health policy team a chance to further develop ideas about how to achieve quality, affordable health care for all.
During his remarks, Daschle outlined three problems that he sees with the health care system — high cost, limited access, and uneven quality. But he emphasized his desire for citizens to give the new administration input on how to define the most pressing problems in health care.
“We want your views on what we need to do to build a better system,” he said. ” We want your exact ideas. What do you think we need to emphasize? What specifically should we be incorporating in this new reform effort?”
Interested parties should go to change.gov to “sign up for a discussion in your home, sometime between the 15th and the 31st,” Daschle said. The health care policy team will then assemble all of the information and present it to Obama, and will also post it to the Web “for everyone to see as part of this transparent process.”
Feel free to check out the RWV site for general questions to ask public officials, and be sure to head over to Lois’s blog at RH Reality Check for suggestions on issues to raise while you’ve got the Secretary’s attention, such as:
- Health care coverage must be affordable. Women and our families need to be able to afford not only the premiums, but also those co-pays and deductibles. Don’t forget that women still earn, on average, only 75 cents for every dollar that men earn, and we use the health system a lot more, in part because of our need for reproductive health care. So, for example, we may have prescription drug coverage for birth control, but the co-pay for filling the prescription can make it unaffordable.
- Health care systems must actively work to achieve equity and eliminate disparities in health care provision. Women who are low-income, immigrants and women of color are at the highest risk for having no health insurance or being under-insured.
And don’t forget to let us know if you host a health care conversation in your home. Send us a summary of what was said (to firstname.lastname@example.org).