Raising Women’s Voices

Even Doctors Have Trouble Accessing Mental Health Care for Patients

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, Pre-existing conditions, Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

Beyond Parity: Primary Care Physicians’ Perspectives On Access to Mental Health Care, an article featured in health policy journal Health Affairs, explores accessing mental health care from a different point of view.  According to Peter Cunningham, a senior fellow at the Center for Studying Health System Change, found that in 2004-2005, more than 60% of primary care physicians were unable to obtain out-patient services for their patients seeking mental health care, a rate that is twice as high as barriers to other health related services.  The report concludes that since the 1990’s, a little over 30% of patients in need of mental health care actually receive it.  Among those providers that reported difficulty in accessing mental health care for patients were pediatricians.  Problems also stemmed from the fact that there are shortages of mental health providers in the community.

Save 30% on Health Premiums?

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, Insurance companies by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

President Obama’s health care plan that offers  options similar to that of Medicare could save Americans up to 30% on their health care premiums costs. According to MoveOn.org: 

  • Health care costs are spiraling out of control. From 2000 to 2008, health insurance premiums increased five times faster than wages.
  • A public health insurance option would provide an affordable, quality alternative. Two new studies show that Americans could save 25% or more off of a traditional private plan. The New York Times says this would “keep the private plans honest.” They’ll have to lower rates and offer better value to compete.
  • Plus, a public health insurance option would be reliable coverage for all. Private insurers are notorious for dumping people with little notice. A public option would allow consumers who’ve been dropped—or just don’t like their current coverage—to switch to a steady public choice.

Join MoveOn.org and other health advocates and send a message to Congress, telling them how you could use the 30% savings.

Senator Gillibrand Commits to Health Reform with NY Health Advocates

Posted in Affordability, Health Reform Policy Proposals, Insurance companies, Personal Stories by raisingwomensvoices on April 13, 2009

On April 13th, 2009, Raising Women’s Voices hosted the NYC regional meeting of Health Care for America Now.  The event was attended by advocates from various organizations committed to health reform, including Committee of Interns and Resident/SEIU Healthcare, Metro NY Health Care for All, ACORN, AFL-CIO, 1199 SEIU, Children’s Defense Fund of NY, Make the Road NY, MoveOn.org, Nation Physicians Alliance, New York Immigration Coalition, Community Service Society, Communication Workers of America, New Yorker’s for Fiscal Fairness and others.

gillibrand

Sen. Gillibrand and Lois Uttely

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, pictured with Raising Women’s Voices co-founder Lois Uttely, was also in attendance.  The Senator had the opportunity to listen to the personal stories of several constituents who struggled to access and pay for comprehensive health care, before addressing the meeting with her reactions and commitment to health care reform.  One woman from NYC for Change shared her story about being diagnosed with cancer over ten years ago, and the struggles she has had to face.  Speaking directly to the Senator, she shared her personal feeling that fighting the insurance companies is harder than fighting her cancer.

In response to the stories shared and the advocates present,  Senator Gillibrand has voiced her commitment HCAN’s Core Principles by:

  • Pushing for a Medicare-for-all public plan
  • Supporting the budget reconciliation process in the Senate that would require majority vote for health reform
  • Supporting programs, such as S-CHIP, that remove the 5 year waiting period that legal immigrants must meet for eligibility requirements

Click here for a list of the 185 Congressional members that support HCAN’s core principles, (including President Obama).

Political Power for the Uninsured?

Posted in DC Reform, Health Reform Policy Proposals by raisingwomensvoices on April 13, 2009

If the uninsured were an organized lobby group, Congress would have a tough time trying ignore their demands.  The recession has contributed to the increased numbers of insured, pushing the numbers to over 50 million.  UNINSURED

So what’s the problem?  Health care, accessing it and paying for it, are still regarded as private issues, rather than ones of public debate.  But what cannot be stressed enough is that health care affects us all. According to one writer of the Associated Press, “People who lose coverage often struggle alone instead of turning their frustration into political action”.

Health Care for America NOW!, (HCAN) a grassroots organization that advocates for quality, affordable health care for all, plans to bring more than 15,000 individuals to Washington, D.C. to lobby on the behalf of the uninsured.  Campaign director Richard Kirsch notes that many of the uninsured do not have the opportunity to partake in events such as the one being organized by HCAN due to fiscal and familial restraints, which is why it is important to have those numbers represented in health reform activism.

With a presidential administration committed to health care reform and advocates across the country working for quality, affordable, comprehensive and accessible health care–the time to act is now!

NYC Speak-Out Success!

Posted in Affordability, Personal Stories by raisingwomensvoices on April 6, 2009

Over 125 women and health advocates came together on April 1st, 2009 to participate in the National Women’s Speak-Out for Health Reform.speak-out-crowd  Free and open to the public, women shared their personal stories and experiences with the health care system.  Issues raised included affordability and access to care, the occurrence of high medical debt, being uninsured and under-insured, experiencing language barriers and the lack of cultural competency.  Women shared stories about not being able to access coverage due to ‘pre-existing conditions’ and the difficulty in navigating the medical and insurance system, as well as the public assistance programs.

In addition to the Speak-Out, workshops were held with speakers and moderators from various health and policy organizations, including the National Women’s Health Network, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Health Law Program, Families USA, Health Care for America NOW!,  the Boston Women’s Health Collective, the National Council of La Raza, the National Latina Institutefor Reproductive Health, and many more.   Participants had the opportunity to learn how to listen and elicit stories, addressing how to remain accountable and ethical when gathering and sharing those stories.  An entire workshop was devoted to learning about various multi-media options and new technologies available to advocates for reaching out to broader bases of supporters.  Health policy experts from the state and national levels also shared some strategies  to address the some of the challenges that lie ahead in the debate on health care reform.

What were some of the take-away lessons? Be bold and raise your voice! Talk with members of your community, post information on blogs and networking sites.  Contact elected officials, at all levels of government, by phone or schedule a visit.  Discuss with them proposed legislation that will affect members of your community, as well as past legislation that contributes to health disparities, such as the Hyde Amendment.  Organize your own speak-out using our guide (available on the RWV website).  Bring  all the voices to the table:  we may be women, but we are also teenagers, seniors, mothers, immigrants, survivors of abuse, cancer and many other illnesses, people with disabilities, members of various religious, ethnic, racial and sexual backgrounds.  Together, we can achieve health care for all.

Visit the Raising Women’s Voices  website for video, pictures and transcripts from the event….coming soon!

Does Public Health Insurance Mean Lower Costs and Higher Quailty Care?

Posted in Affordability, Health Reform Policy Proposals, Insurance companies, Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on February 6, 2009

According to the report released yesterday by the Institute for America’s Future, yes! The report shows that public plans are much better at controlling costs and health care spending than private plans by highlighting the cost savings of Medicare. The report proposed that a new plan should be created, similar to that of Medicare, but available to those under the age of 65. In the past 25 years, Medicare has been able to control costs better than private plans have. Public plans also offer better quality of care, as they are less likely to pass financial increases along to employers and more likely to invest in preventative services. In other words, public plans appear to have more of an incentive to improve the quality of care in order to reduce costs. Public plans were also found to have lower administrative costs, stronger bargaining power, more choices for consumers and increased provider accountability. The health insurance industry and many Republicans in Congress oppose allowing competition between private plans and public plans managed by the federal government. Read the full report!

Cancer Patients with Health Insurance Struggle to Pay for Health Care

Posted in Affordability, Insurance companies, Pre-existing conditions by raisingwomensvoices on February 6, 2009

The American Cancer Society and Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report yesterday on 20 patients who have been diagnosed with cancer or other serious illnesses and the difficulties they have had in accessing affordable health care. The report, Spending to Survive: Cancer Patients Confront Holes in the Health Insurance System, identifies 5 major gaps that cancer patients experience after they have been diagnosed.
First, caps on benefits can lead to high out-of-pocket expenses. Second, employer-based health coverage may not cover catastrophically high health costs. Third, finding an adequate individual plan can be difficult, both for those recently diagnosed and for those in remission. Fourth, high-risk pools are either not available in some states or not affordable. Finally, the waiting periods and eligibility restrictions leave many patients in a period of limbo, in which they are without affordable coverage while waiting to be access public programs.

Check out the full report here

Study: Uninsured population grows with immigration

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities by raisingwomensvoices on August 6, 2008

The uninsured population is increasingly made up of immigrants, according to a study released today by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
The nonpartisan research organization, which doesn’t take policy positions, tracked the increase in the uninsured population over the last 12 years. Native-born Americans still account for the majority — three-fourths — of the persons without health insurance, but the percentage of immigrants in those ranks has grown from 18.8 percent in 1994 to 26.6 percent in 2006.
Over the same 12-year period, the percentage of native-born uninsured dropped from 81.2 percent to 73.4 percent, EBRI said.
In raw numbers, that means 12.3 million immigrants and 34.1 million native-born U.S. residents had no health insurance in 2006, the end of the study period.
EBRI drew from Census data to compile the study. It did not differentiate as to the legal or illegal status of immigrants, so it’s impossible to use the data to draw conclusions about undocumented residents.
The study found that slightly more than 46 percent of foreign-born noncitizens in the U.S. were uninsured in 2006. That compared to an uninsured population of 19.9 percent of foreign-born who had become U.S. citizens and 15 percent of native-born citizens.
The longer an immigrant had resided in the United States, the more likely they were to be insured, the study found. But immigrants also were more likely to be in low-wage jobs that didn’t provide health benefits.

read_more: http://www.kansascity.com/382/story/734235.html

Senators reach out to Obama, McCain on reform

Posted in Health Reform Policy Proposals, Insurance companies by raisingwomensvoices on July 30, 2008

All 16 Senate sponsors of the Healthy Americans Act—a broad bill that would effectively end employer-sponsored healthcare in favor of insurance from a pool of providers—have called on the two major-party presidential candidates to work with them on health reform legislation.
“We believe it is vital that we start working now to ensure that all of our people have high-quality care early in the next administration without breaking the bank,” the senators wrote in a letter sent to Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). The senators go on to say that a strong, bipartisan coalition “will allow a reform initiative to survive the assaults of politics and interests that afflict any serious reform proposal.”
In May, congressional budget auditors said that the bill, primarily sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah), would be “self-financing” or budget-neutral in its first year, eventually yielding a surplus.
As written, the legislation would provide incentives to buy basic private health plans and make health insurance more portable. People with incomes below the federal poverty level could receive subsidies to buy insurance, and states would be given more flexibility to give consumers more choices in insurance available on the private market. — by Matthew DoBias.

Article from Modern Healthcare

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Law Banning Rewards for Rescissions Caps Statewide Effort

Posted in Insurance companies by raisingwomensvoices on July 28, 2008

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) signature this week on a bill banning health insurers from rewarding their employees for rescinding or limiting coverage comes on the heels of state regulators reaching deals with the state’s five major insurers over rescissions.
The governor signed AB 1150 by Assembly member Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) on Tuesday. It is one of several bills aimed at the individual insurance market that lawmakers introduced following state investigations into rescissions, a practice in which insurers revoke policies after people get sick and file claims.
Only people who buy coverage in the individual health insurance market are subject to rescissions; members of group plans cannot have their coverage rescinded. An estimated 14 million Americans, including three million in California, have individual policies.

read_more: http://www.californiahealthline.org/theweekly.aspx?article=legislative&w=07/25/2008