This week is officially devoted to National Women’s Health. For the past eighteen years, with Mother’s Day as the kick-off, the goal has been to make sure that women remember to take care of themselves and make health a number one priority.
This feels somewhat ironic, considering the agenda of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which the Republican House recently passed. That legislation in effect “defunds” Planned Parenthood, leaving women who depend on the organization for reproductive health care without affordable access to birth control or screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. (At minimum, at least 390,000 women are impacted. This accounts for 40 percent of American pregnancies.)
Obamacare's “essential benefits,” key to changing the landscape in healthcare, will now be up to individual states. They will be able to walk away from covering maternity costs and newborn care via “waivers.” Estimates show that in today’s market, pregnancy and infant care can run from $17,000 to $20,000. Charging women more for health services, by classifying them under the dreaded “pre-existing conditions,” will increase women’s premiums.
Worse yet, women could be denied insurance based on “previous situations,” including C-sections, postpartum depression, and even rape and domestic violence.
The bill would also disallow the use of federal tax credits for an insurance plan that handles abortion.
To underscore the disconnect, the Trump team came up with a presidential statement at odds with the healthcare bill currently on the table. It began:
“Ensuring affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare is critical to improving women’s health and ensuring that it fits their priorities at any stage of life. In particular, women should have access to quality prenatal, maternal, and newborn care.”
One of the suggestions from National Women’s Health Week health is to “Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.” (Not likely during the current presidency.) Another tells women to have a yearly well-visit and get preventive screenings.
Nothing is more alienating than seeing a bunch of older white men sitting around deciding what’s best for women’s health. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who serves on the Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee, said the legislation was a “slap in the face” to women.
Murray, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, teamed up with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) at the end of March to introduce the Invest in Women’s Health Act of 2017.
The bill’s purpose is to “provide women with increased access to preventive and life-saving cancer screening” through the creation of new grants to public and nonprofit private entities. The point is to grow preventive services.
Outlined in the body of the bill are findings that report the stats on different cancers and demographics of the women who are impacted. The legislation is tailored to help reduce health disparities by placing an emphasis on populations most at risk, including low-income women and women of color.
Deaths from breast and cervical cancers occur disproportionately among women who are uninsured or underinsured. The content of the bill explains that a facility like Planned Parenthood “provides necessary screening tests, education, and information to women, especially women of color who face the highest risks of breast cancer and other gynecologic cancers.”
It’s interesting that in a poll just released by Pew, only “23 percent of women are satisfied with the way things are going in the country today.”
Maybe they are as worried as I am.
One of the suggestions from National Women’s Health Week health is to “Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.”
(Not likely during the current presidency.) Another tells women to have a yearly well-visit and get preventive screenings.
Without health insurance, none of that is possible.
After checking out the pages devoted to your “Best Care,” broken down by decades (Example: Your 30s), make a point to call your elected representatives.
Tell them you want affordable and comprehensive healthcare.