Women's Health Base

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Posts Tagged ‘conscience rule’

First 100 days – Barack Obama’s health care reform

Posted by hannahflynn on April 27, 2009

Its been a tumultulous 100 days since Obama took office, and while health care reform has been shadowed by the current economic situation some very significant moves have been made. From promises to lower the cost of health care and the swift signing of bills to increase access to family planning, providers and campaigners for women’s health already have cause to celebrate under Obama.

20 January –  In his inauguration speech Obama highlights the issues facing US health policy and promises to tackle them with science, “We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

23 January – Ends ban on federal funding for international groups which fund or promote abortion known as the Mexico City policy. Population Action International said, “Women’s health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance. President Obama’s actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don’t have access to family planning.”

3 February– Tom Daschle, who was set to become Obama’s health secretary and was expected to lead his health care initiative, withdrew his nomination for the post following an admission he failed to pay about $140,000 in back taxes. He had built up a career as a strong advocate of universal health care and has a strong voting record in favour of abortion access.

23 February– Obama holds a fiscal responsibility summit at the White House voicing his intentions to tackle health care.

27 February – Proposes overturning of “conscience rule“, which allows health professionals to refuse to supply emergency contraception on the grounds of conscience.

5 March– Obama hosts day long summit for health care at the White House. He says, “Health care reform is no longer just a moral imperative its a fiscal imperative “.  He later added, “In December every voice has to be heard, every idea must be researched every option must be on the table. There should be no sacred cow.”

9 March– Allows federal funds to be used for embryonic stem cell research. He also declares all federal scientific research will be walled off from political influences. See his speeches as represented by Wordle.com here.


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It’s the health care stupid!

Posted by hannahflynn on January 20, 2009

“We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”  (From The Telegraph).

Phew, its all done. Few were expecting such a quite frankly socialist approach to science. Yes, the man paved the way to the White House after his election with the appointment of actual scientists as his advisers, but he never said much during his campaign about lowering the cost of health care! I thought that was Clinton’s beef…

Anyway as I have previously posted, Obama is oposed the ‘conscience rule’ that has plagued health legislation in the US over the past month.

This month, he also appointed  his health secretary Tom Daschle, who is also leading the Obama administration’s newly created White House Office of Health Reform.

Tom Daschel has a solid grasp of health policy, having outlined his vision for reform in the 2008 book Critical: What We Can Do About The Health-Care Crisis according to the Washington Post.

At the time the creation of a White House Office of Health Reform signified health care was to be at the forefront of policy, even during an economic crisis. Obama said, “If we want to overcome our economic challenges, we must also finally address our health care challenge. I can think of no one better suited to lead this effort.”

Jeanne Lambrew is to serve as his deputy in that office, a woman who’s research interests include the  uninsured, Medicaid and Medicare, health care funding for people on low incomes.

The implications for women’s health care are vast. Pregnant women’s access to free or subsidised health care in the United States has long been considered an embarrassment. 63 percent of women who receive Medicaid or Medicare are of childbearing age (between 19 and 44).

And it’s not just women wishing to be able to give birth in a hospital who may benefit from Jeanne Lambrew’s appointment. Remember it was only in 2000 their funding was extended to women with either breast or cervical cancer – except if they had already been diagnosed. They had to pay.  

Obama also wishes to create a computerised version of all medical records in the country. Not put off by the vastness of the task the NHS started attempting 5 years ago or the $100 billion price tag. He claims digitalising the records of the whole country will slow the rises in health care costs for low income families, many of whom are headed by single women.

Its good news, Forbes reported 9 percent of Americans rated health care their number one concern, that’s the same amount of people who rated terrorism as their chief concern.

Still, it’s risky business making health care reform so prominent at a time when the economy is shot to bits: lets not forget Bill Cinton tried and failed to improve health policy during an economic boom. But maybe this time, the desperation that got him elected will be ‘the change we need’!

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Seven states to sue over ‘conscience rule’

Posted by hannahflynn on January 19, 2009

Just days before Barack comes to save us all (most importantly women according to the National Women’s Law Centre) it has been announced that seven states, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing as the ‘conscience rule’ clashes with state laws.

In Connecticut state law requires all hospitals in the state to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. Not asking much you may think, but dispensers who claim providing the morning-after-pill goes against their conscience can refuse to prescribe it.

“This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience,” HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt said when the final rule was announced.

The ‘conscience rule’ should come into force tommorow the day of Barack Obama’s inaugration, and he has voiced opposition to the amendment.

However, opposition has been venomous since the 11th hour amendment was announced last month, seen by many as a last, unwelcome push by the on-the-way-out Bush administration.

Commentators also predict the ruling will affect poor women the most.  

It allows funding to be cut to hospitals where individuals are coerced into providing the morning-after-pill, known in the United States as Plan B, against their conscience.

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