Raising Women’s Voices

Women Taking Action for National Health Reform

Posted in Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

The creative energy, strategic thinking and collaborative generated by participants at the RWV Speak Out and Strategy Conference on April 1-2 are already having an impact on the organizing that women who attended are doing for health reform in Florida, Georgia, New York, Wisconsin and many other states.

But we want to be sure that the rest of the RWV network of advocates and activists also has a chance to benefit from the terrific ideas and the force for change that came out of the panels and conversations of those days. This week, we’re reporting on highlights from the policy panel on the national outlook for health reform. Look next week for a report on the strategy discussion panel and conversations about how to work together to channel the power of women’s stories about health care as a force for change.

On day two of the conference, Susan Wood, Executive Director of the Jacobs Institute for Women’s Health, moderated a panel of women with a wealth of national health policy experience who talked about what’s happening with national health reform efforts, what’s likely to happen and what we need to be doing to make sure that women’s priorities will be addressed.

Kathleen Stoll, Deputy Director of Families USA, bridging the health policy and women’s health advocacy worlds as she has throughout her career, laid out not just the need for health reform but also a thoughtful presentation about the promising conditions for success today and the most dangerous pitfalls we face.

Deborah Reid, Staff Attorney for the National Health Law Program, presented the opportunities to build on successes and lessons learned from the Medicaid program and articulated the need for a strategy that redresses racial disparities in health care if we’re going to achieve reform that improves health outcomes for the communities most in need.

Martha Livingston, bringing together many years of women’s health advocacy and activism her with her work with Physicians for a National Health Program, discussed the benefits of a single-payer approach to health reform and how a system that is independent from private insurance could substantially improve health services and outcomes for women.

Jennifer Ng’andu of the Health Policy Project at National Council of La Raza addressed concerns about how advocates can take strong and principled stands in the face of the political challenges we face to some aspects of reform, like ensuring that reform meets the health needs of immigrants and other vulnerable communities.

Lisa Codispoti, Senior Adviser on Health Policy at the National Women’s Law Center, identified critical policy issues where women’s health advocates must focus our efforts including affordability of health care, elimination of coverage exclusions based on pre-existing conditions, the option of a public program and a guarantee of a standard, comprehensive package of benefits that fully meet women’s health needs.

Every panelist emphasized the urgency of activating women to speak out now about these critical issues to be sure that policymakers will move forward on the ambitious timeline that health reform proponents in the Congress have laid out. While invigorating us with the unprecedented opportunity for reform that we have today, they also warned that these favorable political conditions aren’t likely to last and urged us to do everything we can to create an irresistible demand for health reform to be enacted this year.

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