Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kill This Health Care Bill Now!

Well, the experts have spoken but no one listened.

To say I'm disappointed with the proposed health care reform bill is an understatement. Once again, number crunchers, lawyers and politicians (since most of them are lawyers it's double jeopardy) have hijacked true reform and crafted bill catering to special interests: conservative, power hungry males, the anti-abortion lobby, and big business in the form of commercial insurers.

The bill myself and other worked so hard to support has created being female as a pre-exisitng condition, requiring women to pay extra for a rider to include coverage for abortion services. Absolute, inexcusable discrimination.

And those who now have no insurance will be required to buy coverage from an exchange run by, guess who? The very same commercial insurance companies that have screwed us all in the past. If you can't afford to buy food and pay your rent and mortgage how are you going to buy insurance?

Back in the 1980s, insurance companies instituted draconian measures to rein in costs and created the myriad of reimbursement strategies including DRG's, precertifications, referrals, preferred provider organizations....The list goes on and on. In the 1990s the Federal government added a whole new layer of regulations to hold down Medicare costs.

Did it improve care? Hell, no! Anyone who has been in a hospital or emergency room knows that there aren't enough nurses or space, yet there are entire departments dedicated to billing, coding, and enforcement of CLIA, HIPPA and all the other mandates. Hospitals are going out of business because their reimbursement rates have been cut. Providers like myself have closed practices because the cost of doing business is higher than the money paid by insurance companies to provide care--and they pay less and less every year. Add to that the malpractice insurance debacle, which I'm not sure has even been addressed in this bill.

Do you trust these people to administer a new bill? Given the last minute, deal making sellouts by the House and Senate which hijacked the original intent of the bill, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL PEOPLE, and the betrayal of those of us who worked in good faith to support reform, I do not.

The Democratic Party gloats about winning but all they have won is a political game, likely to make the situation worse, especially for women and families. They ask us for money, phone calls, petitions, events, signatures, letters....then don't even address our concerns or provide a forum for us to voice our discontent.

Senator Gillebrand and Representative Ackerman have not responded to any of my emails or letters. Senator Schumer has, assuring me that he agrees--but he is still voting for this deeply flawed legislation.

Please, call your representatives and tell this to kill this bill and start over.

Op ed columnist Gail Collins has summarized this much better, and with much more humor than I:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Experts Have Spoken. Will the Politicians Listen?

This letter was posted to the ACNM website and represents the joint efforts of a lot of organizations involved with women's health and women's rights. For a look at the posts that came before, check out my LJ blog which has been around longer.

December 1, 2009
Dear Senator:

The undersigned organizations committed to protecting and improving women's health appreciate efforts to advance health care reform that works towards improving access to quality, affordable and comprehensive health care for all Americans. To that end, we urge your support for Senator Mikulski's Women’s Health Amendment, which will help ensure that health care reform meets women's needs.

The Women's Health Amendment will ensure that women have access to key preventive services they need throughout their lives by strengthening the bill's existing protections. A May 2009 report by the Commonwealth Foundation found that nearly half of women delayed or avoided preventive care due to cost—a serious women's health issue that any health care reform plan must address.

While the current bill takes important steps toward improving access to preventive health care by making those recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) available with no or limited cost sharing, USPSTF recommendations do not fully account for the range of preventive services a woman’s doctor may recommend or that a woman may need. The Women's Health Amendment will allow HRSA to develop evidence-based guidelines to help bridge critical gaps in coverage and cost-sharing for preventive health services, the same approach the bill takes to address gaps in preventive services for children. This needed change is intended to make women's unique health care needs – from family planning and well-woman visits to breast cancer screening and preconception counseling that promotes healthier pregnancies and optimal birth outcomes-- more accessible and affordable for women.

As you consider health care reform legislation, we urge you to vote in favor of the Mikulski Women's Health Amendment that will help millions of women receive essential health care.


National Women’s Law Center
Advocates for Youth
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Civil Liberties Union
American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM)
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
American College of Radiology (ACR)
American Medical Women’s Association
American Nurses Association (ANA)
American Psychological Association
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN)
Break the Cycle
Center for Reproductive Rights
Family Violence Prevention Fund
Jewish Women International
March of Dimes
Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform
Medical Students for Choice
National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF)
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) - HPV Cancer Coalition
The National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Council of Jewish Women
National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA)
National Institute for Reproductive Health
National Latina Health Network
National Organization for Women (NOW)
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women's Health Network
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
OWL - The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
Physicians for Reproductive Choice & Health (PRCH)
Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need
Reproductive Health Technologies Project
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)

And this action alert was sent out by the APHA to it's members. They have been active in fighting the Stupak amendment, and the last word I heard was that the Nelson amendment was also defeated.

Senate debate began today on the Nelson Amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which would significantly impact women who can't afford to purchase separate supplemental coverage for abortion services.
Please take the time to send this message to your Senators today urging that they vote NO when the Senate votes on the Nelson Amendment.
Thank you,
APHA Government Relations

I still don't see how it's fair to ask women to pay extra for premiums in the event they need or want and abortion, when men don't have to pay extra premiums in the event they need treatments for erectile dysfunction. Then again, I've never been (and never will be) a politician.

Please contact your Senators and voice your opinion-whatever it is.

My Livejournal blog is at: