The View from the States
Given that the battle for health reform is moving into the states for the first implementation phase in 2011, let's look to them next. First the good news. Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire and New York fended off anti-choice and/or anti-reform candidates for governor (with several states still too close to call).
Unfortunately, several states have voted in governors who are anti-choice and/or anti-health reform. Among these are: New Mexico, where Democrat Bill Richardson's administration will be replaced by anti-choice Republican Susana Martinez who supports parental notification and whose website asserts that she "has been recommended by Right to Life New Mexico as a candidate who will stand up for pro-life principles."; Florida, where Republican Rick Scott will take over, and give anti-choice lawmakers another shot at their bill banning abortion coverage in that state's exchange; and Pennsylvania, where there will be a new Republican governor, Tom Corbett, who sued to block the health reform law as PA Attorney General.
The fight to fulfill the promise of health reform will certainly not be easy. Raising Women's Voices has an excellent network of coordinators and allies working in many of the states where the challenges will be tough. If you would like to join our network and work with us, email us here. We need you to continue raising your voices!
Contraception is Prevention: Update from DC
The new health care reform law is already lowering the cost of preventive services, such as mammograms and Pap smears, by eliminating co-pays for these services in all new insurance plans. But, we are still working hard to get contraception added to the federal list of qualified preventive services.
Our work will enter a new phase on November 16 in Washington, with the first meeting of the new Preventive Services for Women committee announced by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asked the (IOM) to convene an expert committee to make recommendations about which women's health preventive services should be added to the list of services exempt from co-pays. Members of the committee include many outstanding women's health and public health experts.
RWV will be there, and take every opportunity to remind the committee that there is a strong public health consensus for including contraception as a preventive service. We'll also talk about the importance of preventive services, including contraception, being covered without any co-pays or deductibles. And we won't forget to talk about how important it is that women get coverage for these services without any unnecessary and unreasonable delays. The IOM has a great reputation for bringing together well-qualified experts and keeping politics out of their scientific deliberations, but they don't always work very quickly.
We are continuing to urge HHS to speed up this process, especially since there is no medical or scientific controversy about contraception as prevention. HHS officials responded to our (your!) official comment letter with an offer to meet in person a few days from now. We appreciate the administration's respectful response to our comments, and are looking forward to our opportunities to bring our message directly to HHS and the IOM. Stay tuned to the RWV Blog for more updates.