Thursday, December 24, 2009

Health care reform is no holiday gift for women and immigrants

Personally, this makes me angry and disappointed to say the least.  I missed two days of work on Nov. 18 and Dec 2 to lobby in DC, taking 4.5 hour bus rides each way.  I missed another day of work on Dec 4 for the NOW-NYS rally in NYC.  I am only one example of the countless people who spent time and money to try to prevent the anti-choice & anti-women provisions in the bill.  Once again, our elected officials sent out a clear message - the majority of Americans - their employers - do not matter.  By majority, I am referring to women making up 51% of the population and the 60% of Americans who are pro-choice.  I wonder if there are any restrictions for Viagra coverage in the bill.

Jerin Alam
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force Co-Chair
National Organization for Women (NOW)

December 24th, 2009

Senate Passes Health Care Reform Bill

This morning, the Senate voted through their version of the health care reform legislation.  Unfortunately, what could be a tremendous opportunity has been used instead to deliver a blow to women and immigrants.  Even though the restrictive abortion language passed in the House did not make it into the Senate bill, the compromise that was forged by Senator Nelson (D-NE) remains excessively restrictive; people who purchase insurance policies that cover abortion would be expected to write two checks - one for abortion coverage, and one for the rest.  Though this may seem a small inconvenience, the added administrative processes that will be required is an incentive for insurance companies to drop abortion coverage altogether.  Moreover, states can decide whether to prohibit plans that include abortion coverage in the exchange, meaning that women in more conservative states will be unable to purchase affordable health insurance policies that cover the entire scope of reproductive health services.

This is unacceptable.

Immigrants fared no better; Senator Menendez's (D-NJ) amendment to remove the five-year bar to Medicaid for legal permanent residents did not make it into the final bill.  Even worse, the Senate version of the bill does not let undocumented persons buy insurance policies from the exchange with their own money.

However, it is not over yet.  There is another step in the legislative process where the House bill and the Senate bill must be reconciled during a procedure called "conference committee."  We must continue, and demand that health care reform not be passed on the backs of women and immigrants.  Enough with divide-and-conquer politics - restrictive abortion language and anti-immigrant provisions must be removed from the final health care legislation in congress.  We will stand for nothing less.

In Solidarity,

the NLIRH Staff

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