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.

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.

Abstinence-Only Education Failing Texas

Posted in Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

According to The National Partnership for Women and Families , Texas has the third highest teen birth rate in the nation — 50% higher than the national average, yet 94% of Texan students receive abstinence-only sex education. Texas is also the nation’s largest recipient of abstinence-only funds, totaling more than $18 million.

Texas state Rep. Joaquin Castro (D), vice chair of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, expressed his feelings on the subject in an opinion piece written for San Antonio Express News.  Castro mentioned that teen pregnancy can lead to high drop-out rates; 60 % of mothers who have a child before they turn 18 do not graduate from high school.  According to Castro, “Texas students need a complete, medically-accurate and age-appropriate sex education curriculum. And, if parents desire, they can opt-out their children from receiving any type sexual education curriculum.”

House Bill 741 has been introduced in the Texan Legislature, a measure that would continue to provide abstinence education, but also information related to birth control and protection from sexually transmitted infections.

Nebraska’s Abortion Debate

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

Nebraska’s Legislature Judiciary Committee voted 6-0 to pass legislation that    would require doctors to show women seeking abortions to an ultrasound of the fetus one hour prior to the performing the procedure.  The bill is now set to move to Nebraska’s full legislature for a vote.  The bill passed by the Judiciary Committee states that the woman must look at the monitor to view the image, while the full legislature will consider alternate language that may allow women the choice to avert their eyes.  According to The National Partnership for Women and Families, another amendment called for by Senator Kent Rogert (D),  removed legislative language that would require doctors to inform women that the procedure places them at risk for psychological trauma.

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.”

States Cut Cost-Saving Health Programs

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, State Reform by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

In lieu of the budget crisis that our nation faces, many states are reacting by cutting health care programs.  While these cuts may offer a benefit in the short-term, the programs being slashed are ones that provide long-term cost savings.  According to Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 34 states have cut programs.

What are some of the real-life implications to these cuts?

  • States like Ohio that have had to reduce funding to child welfare are likely to see an increase of the number of children in foster care.  Ohio’s cuts have translated into a loss of 75% of its child welfare investigators.
  • California has eliminated Medicaid Dental Coverage for adults.
  • States like Arizona now have over 1,000 individuals who are forced to go without home medical care, who now struggle to perform basic functions such as bathing and domestic chores, which means many will enter nursing homes, an option that is more costly than home care.

According to the  New York Times, the hardest hit state has been Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has cut $1.6 million this year, and a proposed $3 million from next year’s budget.   States foregoing practices that are cost effective in the long-term and beneficial for well-being of its constituents.  Families in situations of child abuse and neglect, for example,  are now faced with 2 drastic options:  remove children and place them in foster care, or wait until a serious incident occurs within the home.

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).

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!

Health Care Marketplace | AP/Detroit News Examines Lifetime Health Coverage Caps as Cost of Health Care Rises

Posted in Affordability, Insurance companies by raisingwomensvoices on July 21, 2008

 U.S. residents increasingly “are learning that individual caps that seemed large quickly max out” because of the rising costs of health care, the AP/Detroit News reports. As a result, several patient advocacy groups are encouraging insurers to increase the limits, which do not adjust for inflation. In addition, lawmakers are currently considering two bills that would mandate such adjustments, according to the AP/News.

According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust, 1% of U.S. employer-based single coverage health plans in 2007 set limits on benefits below $1 million. The study also found 22% of single coverage plans set caps from $1 million to less than $2 million.

read_more: http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=53278