IN THE NEWS: Progressive Voices on Health Care Reform

After months of debates and delays, Congress finally put health care reform to a vote. The result has left progressive women’s voices split. Some feel that women have yet again been thrown under the bus as access to reproductive health care was weakened in exchange for moving the rest of the bill forward. Others feel that this is a historic moment where health care reform was not just talked about but actually acted on. Overall, the reactions have been bittersweet. There have been both gains and losses. Gone are provisions that deny health insurance based on pre-existing conditions such as being a survivor of domestic violence or having had a C-section. Nearly 30 million more Americans will have access to health insurance. But there is no public option and we have taken a giant step back in the arena of reproductive health.

To make sense of this complex legislation—and where we go from here—check out this fact sheet from Raising Women’s Voices, outlining the key provisions of reform and their impact on women. Also, join the National Women’s Law Center next Thursday, April 8th at 1:00pm EST as they explore in a webinar “how women will benefit from health care reform.” Click here to register for the webinar. The link will also connect you to NWLC’s analyses of how women will benefit from health care reform on national and state levels.

In the meantime, we have compiled a list of progressive reactions to health care reform from NCRW’s network and beyond to help you stay informed and stay involved.

Reform Vote Gets Yays, Nays from Women's Lobby
March 23, 2010
Women’s eNews: Advocates for women's rights decried the exclusion of abortion coverage in the House health reform bill passed late Sunday in a historic 219-212 vote. But they were mixed in their ultimate up-or-down assessment of the legislation.

Obama Signs Historic Health Bill; Key Provisions Go into Effect in 2010
March 23, 2010
The Feminist Majority Foundation: "This is the beginning of a dramatic expansion of health care access, eventually adding coverage for 32 million people, increasing access to family planning and preventive care, and starts to limit some of the most despicable insurance company practices," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "But women were forced to pay a price. Abortion was the only medical procedure singled out with punitive restrictions. We must repeal the Hyde Amendment," said Smeal.

Historic Health Care Vote: Celebrate and Recommit to Rights of Women, Low-Income People and People of Color
March 22, 2010
Ms. Foundation for Women: There is absolutely no doubt that last night's House vote for health care reform was historic. True, it fell short in many ways -- by further restricting women's -- particularly low-income women's -- access to abortion, prohibiting immigrants from buying insurance from the exchange, and omitting a public option. But it is a monumental step nonetheless, and we applaud Democratic members of Congress who persevered amidst scare tactics and misguided rhetoric to lay the foundation for significant social change.

Statement of Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, on House Passing Historic Health Care Reform Bill
March 21, 2010
Planned Parenthood has served men, women and families for over thirty years. They have long fought to instigate reform in the broken health care system for a long time and are ecstatic to see such a monumental bill passed. The president of PPFA notes in her statement, how pleased she is that health care has been expanded to cover 30 million more Americans and provide vital services to women, such as cervical cancer screenings and family planning. Most importantly she commended congress on preventing the anti-abortion amendment, pushed by Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI), from being signed along with the bill. However, expresses concern for the anti-choice language and symbolism of the Executive Order given by Obama that put limitations on insurance companies when dealing with abortion.

Victory's Cost: Healthcare and Abortion Rights
March 28, 2010
Kate Michelman: Pro-choice activists are torn between celebrating the passage of health care legislation and confusion, if not anger, at the price paid to obtain it. Millions of Americans, including a disproportionate number of women, will have access to health care they desperately need. But this victory was achieved through a fundamental change in the way we treat reproductive rights. Without this bill, I probably could not avoid personal bankruptcy and still provide for the health care my husband and daughter require. I also have spent much of my adult life defending and protecting reproductive rights.

Historic Health Care Vote Leaves Women Feeling Shortchanged
March 22, 2010
Gloria Feldt: So this is what change looks like? Throwing women’s rights under the bus in exchange for health care? Something about this doesn’t feel like change. Something about this feels all too familiar. Once again, women’s rights are being used as a bargaining chip for political gain. Once again, the right to choose is not left in the hands of women, but left in the hands of male politicians who will never be faced with an unwanted pregnancy.

Health Care Reform Victory Comes with Tragic Setback for Women's Rights
March 21, 2010
National Organization for Women: As a longtime proponent of health care reform, I truly wish that the National Organization for Women could join in celebrating the historic passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It pains me to have to stand against what many see as a major achievement. But feminist, progressive principles are in direct conflict with many of the compromises built into and tacked onto this legislation. The health care reform bill passed by Congress today offers a number of good solutions to our nation's critical health care problems, but it also fails in many important respects. After a full year of controversy and compromise, the result is a highly flawed, diminished piece of legislation that continues reliance on a failing, profit-driven private insurance system and rewards those who have been abusive of their customers. With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.

The Price of Health Care
March 23, 2010
Center for Reproductive Rights: The new Health Care Reform Laws will now require that insurance companies provide more access for women to receive contraceptives, maternity care, and reproductive health care. Unfortunately, this bill has taken a toll on women’s access to affordable abortion. Under the Nelson amendment the bill states that insurance companies that provide abortion insurance must charge two separate annual fees, one for abortion, and one for everything else. This amendment allows states the choice to deny abortion coverage completely!

The Health Care Bill and Women's Health: Wins, Losses, and Challenges
March 23, 2010
RH Reality Check: Today, President Obama signed the Affordable Health Care for America Act into law. Many aspects of the Act apply across the board to Americans regardless of age, sex, health history or employment status. Some of the provisions are of particular importance to women. Below is an initial summary of the wins, losses, and remaining challenges for women's health and rights.

The Pulse: House Passes Health Care Reform
March 22, 2010
The Media Consortium: Last night, the House of Representatives passed comprehensive health care reform after more than a year of fierce debate. The sweeping legislation will extend coverage to 32 million Americans, curb the worst abuses of the private insurance industry, and attempt to contain spiraling health care costs.

Payback for Prochoicers
March 18, 2010
The Nation: A major blow was given to pro-choice supporters when they passed the Health Care Reform Bill with the Nelson Amendment, a clause that severely limits women’s access to abortion coverage. By agreeing to accept this clause pro-choice supports allowed the bill to go through the House, which it would not have had they not seceded on the issue. As a form of payback for the compromise this author argues that full funding should be granted to another law that protects the rights of women like Violence Against Women Act, or the signature of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.


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