Raising Women’s Voices

Public option…no public option – women’s issues

Posted in DC Reform, Health Reform Policy Proposals, Reproductive Health Care by raisingwomensvoices on July 7, 2009

We often reduce the health care debate down to whether or not health care reform legislation will have a public plan option. However, if we look closely there are other more nuanced parts of reform that we should also be paying close attention to. Ezra Klein talks offers his top 5 issues in health care reform. Some of these like Medicaid expansion and benefits are of particular importance to women.

1. The Health Insurance Exchange: this is extremely important for women. Without one central place to find and compare health insurance benefits and prices, we have no way of knowing what is the best for us and our families.

2. Medicaid: Ezra talks about who should be included in the expanded Medicaid program (what percentage of the federal poverty level should be included). This is also really important for women; we want as many women of low income to have access to a comprehensive public option. However, this is complicated because there is a federal restriction on reproductive health services (specifically abortion) in Medicaid. The Hyde Amendment is passed every year in appropriations bills, and looks like even with a Democratic majority it won’t be overturned.

3. Subsidies: Ezra says; “You can’t demand that people purchase something that they can’t afford and that you’re not willing to help them afford.” Amen to that. Women suffer when they have to make decisions about where to spend their money – food or health insurance premiums.

4. The Minimum Benefits Package: Even though people may have insurance, this doesn’t mean they are covered. This is so important for women. We want to make sure ALL reproductive health services are included in a minimum benefits package, no exceptions.

5. Can You Choose Not To Keep What You Have?: Another important piece for women. Is there real, actual choice in reform? Can women truly decide what coverage they and their family gets?

Another related piece is the increasing buzz in Washington right now about the inclusion of reproductive health care for women of all ages in the public option, the private options, and in the proposed health insurance exchange. Raising Women’s Voices has put out a few alerts about this topic that are making the rounds in the blogosphere. It is extremely important that these benefits are not barred from health coverage for any woman, but especially those most vulnerable: the poor.

Womenstake points the following out on their blog: the Mellman Group conducted a poll for the National Women’s Law Center that surveyed 1,000 likely voters about their beliefs around the inclusion of reproductive health services in health insurance coverage. An overwhelming majority believes that these services should be included in a public option. We agree, and so do some awesome citizens of the great state of Maine.

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