Raising Women’s Voices

Nationwide Call to Action on Breastfeeding

Posted in Personal Stories, Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

The Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Office on Women’s Health, Office of the Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  has announced a Call To Action on Breastfeeding, in which it is asking for comments from individuals and organizations about breastfeeding promoting  policies and activities. According to the group,

“Breastfeeding is unquestionably healthier for mothers and babies compared to feeding with infant formula.

We are especially interested in new ideas that will increase equity in breastfeeding rates among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Ideas should build on programs and policies that are recognized to be effective or evidence-based. In addition, we welcome suggestions to adopt, expand, implement, research, or improve existing strategies.”

12 topic areas have been created for individuals to submit comments.

They include: 

  1. Maternal and Infant Care Practices: Prenatal, Hospital, and Post-Delivery Care
  2. Access to Lactation Care and Support
  3. Health Professional Education, Publications, and Conferences
  4. Use of Banked Human Milk
  5. Work-site Lactation Support, On-site Child Care, and Milk Expression
  6. Paid Maternity Leave
  7. Portrayal of Breastfeeding in Traditional Popular Media and New Electronic Media
  8. Support for Breastfeeding in Public Settings
  9. Peer Support and Education of Family Members and Friends
  10. Community Support for Breastfeeding in Complementary Programs (e.g., Early Head Start, Home Visitation, Parental Training)
  11. Research and Surveillance
  12. Other Areas

Submit your comments and recommendations before the May 31st, 2009 deadline.

HHS Secretary Nominnee Sebelius and Abortion

Posted in Maternity Care, Reproductive Health Care, Sexual health, State Reform by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

On April 2nd, 2009,  HHS Secretary Nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) answered a number of questions at the Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearings.  Answering Senator Kyl’s queries about abortion, the Kansas Governor responded, “I am personally opposed to abortion, and my faith teaches me that all life is sacred. Throughout my career as a public official I have tried to reduce unwanted pregnancies, and thus curtail the need for abortion. In Kansas, the abortion rate dropped over 10 percent during my administration. I also signed into law bills to support adoption.”

HHS Secretary Nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and enate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) (L)

HHS Secretary Nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) (L)

While Sebelius does not hide the fact that she is personally opposed to abortion, she believes in protecting the Constitutional rights of America’s citizens.  Sebelius went on to answer Senator Kyl’s question about her position on abortion and legislation that she vetoed while serving as Governor of Kansas.  “Most of the abortion-related bills I vetoed as Governor threatened the constitutional rights or medical privacy of women. Some sought to provide people other than a woman’s doctor access to her medical records. Like most Americans, I strongly believe the privacy of medical records must be protected. In addition, I vetoed two bills that attempted to put specific regulations on abortion facilities without applying those same standards to all outpatient surgical centers. I favored treating all outpatient surgical centers equally.”

Loss of Dashle Blow to Health Reform? He Doesn’t Think So…

Posted in DC Reform, State Reform by raisingwomensvoices on March 20, 2009

“When I withdrew from consideration to be secretary of health and human services, some pundits said health reform had received a devastating blow. While it would be flattering for me to believe that, it would also be completely wrong…the biggest error those pundits made was in thinking that the debate over health-care reform would be decided by who occupies certain positions in Washington. It won’t. It will be decided by the American people. And at the Forum on Health Reform, those voices were finally heard,” says former HHS Nominee Thomas Daschle.

The former South Dakota Senator reports that while it may be flattering to hear that his withdrawal is a serious blow  to health care reform in this country, he believes that there are many advocates and reformers in Washington that are able to achieve change.  Furthermore, Daschle notes that with a President who believes “Health-care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year” , a committed HHS nominee  Gov. Kathleen Sebelius , White House Office of Health Reform head Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, Republicans who support health reform and allies from the pharmaceutical lobbyists, not to mention the thousands of Americans who have already voiced their concerns, health reform has many staunch supporters.

Obama Nominates Kansas Gov. Sebelius to Head HHS

Posted in DC Reform by raisingwomensvoices on March 4, 2009

President Obama has pledged over $630 billion dollars towards Health Care Reform and he wants someone who “knows health care in and out”.  On Monday March 2nd, 2009, Obama nominated Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat Governor from Kansas, as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to replace former nominee Senator Tom Daschle, who withdrew his nomination a month ago. 

President Obama with HHS Nominee Sebelius
President Obama with HHS Nominee Sebelius

If confirmed by the Senate, Sebelius will have plenty of work ahead of her.  The HHS has over 67,000 employees , and includes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health.  

“Kathleen Sebelius embodies such a commitment to bipartisan accomplishment,” the president said. “She is, after all, the daughter of a Democratic governor and the daughter-in-law of a Republican congressman. But she’s forged a reputation for bipartisan problem-solving in her own right.”
In the nominee’s own words, “This isn’t a partisan challenge,” she continued. “It’s an American challenge and one that we can’t afford to ignore.”

What will Daschle’s withdrawal mean for reform efforts?

Posted in DC Reform by raisingwomensvoices on February 6, 2009

The former nominee for HHS Secretary, Tom Daschle, was to be a key component of health care reform efforts under the new administration, given his befitting combination of Senate experience and extensive knowledge of health care.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said in a statement released Feb. 3 that Daschle’s nomination “was no ordinary appointment and today is not a good day for the cause of health care reform. Tom brought a unique level of legislative skill and experience to this position in addition to his passion to achieve affordable health care for every American.”

While it is not expected that the track to reform will be halted by this shake-up, Steve Teske, at BNA’s Health Care Daily Report, writes of certain delays that are to be expected.  Of course, President Obama must choose a replacement; those under consideration include former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D).  Secondly, Daschle’s withdrawal will undoubtedly delay the appointment of other HHS officials, including the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Lambrew ObamaSources close to the White House are saying the quest for a replacement is currently focused on governors, for their experience running state Medicaid programs.  Because Daschle was intended to serve both the cabinet position and as director of a new White House Office of Health Reform, there is talk of replacing him with two people.  Under consideration for the latter position is Jeanne Lambrew, Daschle’s co-author on his recent book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.

One New York Times writer posits that the interim period could allow Congressional Democrats a useful window of time to refine their reform plan and strategy before they are presented with the President’s proposal.  Senator Max Baucus, who has been working side-by-side with Senator Ted Kennedy in pushing forward health care legislation since before the inauguration, dismissed the significance of Daschle’s withdrawal, saying, “It’s barely a little ripple in the water.”