Raising Women’s Voices

Progressive Democrats (well…some of them) stand up for the public option

Posted in DC Reform, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on July 10, 2009

Though it feel sometimes like health care reform is a lost cause, that all things are doom and gloom, it’s nice to hear some elected officials speak out in support of what their constituents want. This article from the Daily Kos talks about the leadership and membership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. They have stated their support for the public health insurance option and their dismay at the Olympia Snowe (R-ME) proposed trigger option. These statements were in response to Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and the comments he’s made recently about the trigger option being a compromise the White House is considering.

Blog shout-out!

Posted in DC Reform, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on July 9, 2009

Hi everyone! Check out RH Reality Check for Lois’ blog post! It’s wonderful.

Midwives and health reform

Posted in Grassroots, Health Reform Policy Proposals, Maternity Care by raisingwomensvoices on July 8, 2009

An interesting article from Feministing about midwives and health reform. Check it out!

Conservatives strike again! Don’t let them exclude essential services!!

If conservatives get their way on health reform, we will soon have quality, affordable health care for all — except for women, terminally ill patients, gays and lesbians, people with HIV and anybody else conservatives don’t like!

A slew of proposed amendments submitted to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee Tuesday night would hobble that committee’s health reform proposal. Republican Senators Michael Enzi, Orin Hatch and Tom Coburn have proposed that:

* Coverage for abortion would be banned;

* Health providers and insurers would be protected against “discrimination” for refusing to provide health care requested by their patients including abortions, removal of feeding tubes from terminally ill patients, aid-in-dying (such as in Oregon, Washington and Montana, where this is legal) or really just about any health service they find objectionable;

* Federally-qualified health centers could not provide abortions and still get government grants;

* Any independent medical advisory board empaneled to offer advice to HHS on the benefits to be included in national health reform coverage would have to include “professional ethicists…with specialty in rights of the life of the unborn.”

These amendments would be damaging to women’s health and they don’t have public support. Public opinion research shows that large majorities of U.S. voters understand that reproductive health services are part of basic health care for women. Make sure the Senate HELP committee members know that the public supports health care reform that includes these reproductive health services and opposes exclusions like the ones being proposed. We want medical experts and citizens to make these decisions, NOT politicians.

If your Senator is one of these, let him or her know that you and the majority of US voters want them to stand strong for health reform that doesn’t include political exclusions: Edward Kennedy (MA); Christopher Dodd (CT); Barbara A. Mikulski (MD); Jeff Bingaman (NM); Patty Murray (WA); Jack Reed (RI); Bernard Sanders (VT); Sherrod Brown (OH); Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA); Kay Hagan (NC); Jeff Merkley (OR). You can contact them at help_comments@help.senate.gov. As always, please cc info@raisingwomensvoices.net so we can track and feature your excellent letters!

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.

Health care reform news

Posted in DC Reform, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on July 2, 2009

An article about comparative effectiveness.

A column about the new plan put forward by the Senate Finance Committee.

The issue of reconciliation.

The Republicans and moderate Democrats want less public option, liberal Democrats want more. Props to our own Senator Chuck Schumer for…not giving up? The Daily Kos does a good straight analysis of the recent additions to the Senate HELP bill (AKA the public plan) on their website here.

The Senate Finance Committee may restrict women’s health care!

Posted in DC Reform, Health Reform Policy Proposals, Reproductive Health Care, Sexual health by raisingwomensvoices on July 1, 2009

Yesterday rumors were flying and some folks are saying they’ve been confirmed. The Senate Finance Committee (SFC), in an effort to make health care into a bi-partisan effort, is considering a restriction on abortion funding with the passage of health care reform. This could mean not allowing a public health insurance plan to cover the cost of abortions for women. It is still unclear under what circumstances this provision would apply, but we want to make sure that you all are aware of what’s going on in the SFC!

This is potentially very dangerous, and poses a great risk for the health and lives of women all over this country. There is no excuse for excluding health benefits from health insurance plans based on politics and ideology. We don’t want politicians deciding what health care services we have and do not have. We need to look out for the women with the least access to resources and capital and ensure that their needs are represented.

Please contact your members of congress, encourage them to oppose this amendment or any language about restricting women’s access to reproductive health care services. We most strongly encourage women and men from states represented on the Senate Finance Committee to contact their representatives: Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Alaska, Oregon, New York, Michigan, Washington, Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, Iowa, Utah, Maine, Arizona, Kentucky, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, and Texas. Make your voice heard and make sure this possibility doesn’t become a reality.

Happenings on the Hill

Posted in DC Reform, Grassroots, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on June 30, 2009

It seems that the President is negotiating a fine line between being too involved in health reform and not involved enough. Yesterday he hosted five governors (Republicans and Democrats) who the administration considers possible allies in the fight for reform. By influencing senators and congresspeople through their governors, the President retains a kind of outsider position, which may be advantageous. Preventing a tax on employee benefits and ensuring the public plan option seem to be the two things most at risk.

It looks as if the Senate Finance Committee will be releasing their draft of the health reform bill right after the July 4th recess. The Senate HELP Committee and the Tri-Committee (Labor and Pensions, Ways and Means, and Health and Education) of the House will continue hearings and mark-up through next week. If things go smoothly, it is still possible there could be floor debates in September and a resulting bill on the desk of the President by mid-October. Things may not go so smoothly and we’ll have to wait a bit longer for revisions to be finished up. Stay tuned right here for the latest updates and what you can do to make sure your concerns are represented.

An article from the Washington Post about why reform is so important, and an overview by Time Magazine. Also, a word from Max Baucus (D-MT, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee). He’s saying what he’s said for…a long time. But are there answers? And finally, and organization pushing representatives in congress to actually read the bills. God forbid.

Cindy Pearson on Women’s E-News

Posted in Grassroots, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on June 29, 2009

Raising Women’s Voices partner Cindy Pearson was intereviewed by Molly Ginty for Women’s E-News. Cindy is the executive director of the National Women’s Health Network in Washington, DC and is a fabulous lady. The article, from Jun 26th is on their website here. Check it out!

National Women's Health Network office

“Doing nothing is not an option”

Posted in DC Reform, Grassroots, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on June 29, 2009

President Barack Obama has scheduled another town hall-style meeting to take place on Wednesday in Annandale, Virginia. The event will focus on questions from citizens submitted via YouTube, and will most likely focus on the President’s message that not acting on health care reform is unacceptable:

“Ultimately, your engagement on this issue is just as important as that of our lawmakers. I’ve always believed that real change doesn’t come from Washington, it comes from the American people — and we won’t be able to achieve reform without you. So America, tell me what you want to know about health care reform and I’ll do my best to answer your questions. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Read the full article here, and Twitter questions with hashtag #WHHCQ.