Category: Updates

Phil Bredesen for Secretary of HHS?

Now that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name for Secretary of HHS word is the the Obama administration is considering Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen for the post.

According to Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic

As governor, Bredesen presided over some drastic cuts to TennCare, Tennessee’s once innovative effort to reform Medicaid.

… Bredesen knew a thing or two about health care: before getting into politics, he had made his fortune by founding a company called HealthAmerica—one of the first commercial HMOs to cash in on managed care during the late 1980s. This experience, plus his confidence in his own intellectual abilities (he had a physics degree from Harvard), convinced him that he could wring new efficiencies from Tennessee’s Medicaid system, just as his HMO had generated financial savings—and hefty profits—in the private market.

A lot of what Bredesen proposed to do—such as reducing fraud by providers and recipients, and improving the use of information technology—made sense. But when those quick fixes didn’t bring the TennCare budget under control, he unveiled a more straightforward plan: he would simply slash the program. More than 100,000 people who had qualified for TennCare because they were “medically needy” would lose their coverage altogether. Those allowed to remain in the program would have to make do with more limited benefits. The biggest change would be in the coverage of prescription drugs. “The sad reality is that we can’t afford TennCare in its current form,” Bredesen said. “It pains me to set this process in motion, but I won’t let TennCare bankrupt our state. This is the option of last resort.”

Please contact the White House at 202-456-1111 (FAX: 202-456-2461, TTY/TDD 202-456-6213) and/or send them an email by using the form provided on the White House web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/. There is no time to waste.

Interesting Article on Time.com

There is an interesting article on Time.com about the family planning aspects of the stimulus package that were removed. Obama reportedly made the request to House Democrats to remove the provision as a concession to the GOP. But, the bill passed the house with NO GOP votes.

The Time Magazine article gives a good explanation of the Medicaid exception that was being requested:

What would the Medicaid provision have done?

Before Obama took office, a group of health organizations including the March of Dimes sent memos to his transition aides asking for a change in federal policy to alter a Bush-era Medicaid policy. Current law does not allow women of child-bearing age (15-44) to become eligible for Medicaid coverage until after they become pregnant or if they have children who are enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). States that want to expand their Medicaid coverage to allow low-income women to access family planning services must first obtain a federal waiver.

The provision originally included in the stimulus package would have eliminated the waiver requirement, allowing states to directly access Medicaid funds for family planning services that do not involve abortion.

But I do have two criticisms of the article.

1. Why is the photo at the top a person handing out condoms? That EXACTLY what the anti-choicers were saying about the bill, and it’s wrong. The stimulus package was NOT asking for condoms to be handed out on the streets.
2. At the end of the article, it says, “As one progressive policy analyst noted, inserting the Medicaid provision into the stimulus package ‘was kind of like bringing up marriage on the third date. You know it’s going to come up eventually, so why start a fight at the very beginning before you’ve gotten anywhere?“‘. Who said that? And does anyone else find that to be an offensive comment? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Read the full article at Time.com

Ask President Obama to Stand Up for Family Planning

The stimulus plan passed today, but without the family planning element. We need to express our disappointment to President Obama.

Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111. Tell the operator you have a comment about the stimulus plan and you’ll be transferred to a White House staff member. Let them know that you are disappointed in Obama’s failure to stand up for women’s health.

You can also email the president at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ or write them at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Obama to drop family-planning from stimulus as GOP concession

President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package has been finalized and it does not include an important family planning provision.

The provision would have allowed states to offer family planning services under Medicaid — including contraceptives — without first seeking the permission of the Federal government.

Providing family planning to low-income women is just good public policy — and also a good way to reduce the number of abortions performed. Some House Republicans (and some House Democrats) just don’t get how preventing unwanted pregnancies is important to the economy. It’s very simple, if you accidentally get pregnant, you may not be able to go to work, or get a job, or keep your job. This affects not only women, but children as well. As many low-income families are led by women, it’s important that women are able to control when and if they have children.

The family planning provision represented less than a quarter of a percent of the total stimulus package, but Republicans made a stand on the issue.

If only our side would consistently make a stand on women’s health. Instead, women’s health was used as a bargaining chip. We are disappointed Mr. President.

Obama Overturns Global Gag rule!

President Barack Obama today signed an executive order lifting a ban on U.S. funding for international family planning groups that perform abortions or provide counseling about the procedure.

The order rescinds the Mexico City Policy, also known as the “gag rule,” which President Ronald Reagan originally instituted in 1984 and President Bill Clinton rescinded and President George W. Bush revived in 2001.

The decision had been eagerly expected by family planning groups, women’s health advocates and others, who hoped it would restore millions of dollars of funding to programs providing health care, contraceptive services, HIV prevention and other care around the world.

The lifting of the Mexico City Policy does not permit U.S. funding to be used to provide abortions but allows funding to resume to groups that provide other services, including counseling and referrals for abortions. Critics argued the policy resulted in more abortions by denying women access to contraceptives.

“We know from available evidence that voluntary access to contraception is the best way to reduce the number of abortions in the developing world,” said Dana Hovig of Marie Stopes International, a London-based group that provides reproductive health care in 43 countries and was denied U.S. funding under the policy. “We now have an opportunity to demonstrate this fact once and for all.”

See: Washington Post

President Obama

Today is the 36th anniversary of Roe v Wade and as participants in Blog for Choice Day we would like to let President Obama know our most pressing concerns:

#1 is the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act which writes a woman’s right to choose into the Constitution. Obama has expressed support for it.
#2 is overturning the Hyde Amendment which bars the use of Federal funds for funding. The Hyde Amendment has a devastating impact on low income and poor
women- many consider the passage of the Hyde Amendment as having had the impact of overturning Roe because those in many ways most in need have no resources available to them.
#3 is overturning the Helms Amendment which prohibits the use of foreign assistance funds “for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” It was passed in 1973. Reversing the Global Gag Rule is very important because it will allow clinics to speak out on all forms of family planning without losing funds but it will not end the ban on foreign aid for safe abortion care.
#4 is to allow access to abortion for women serving in the military. Now they cannot even get an abortion if they use their own money! Because some countries in which our military serve outlaw abortion, military bases must provide access to all reproductive services.

Goodbye George

Barack Obama is now president of the United States. We are looking forward to seeing what the Obama administration will do towards supporting women and choice in the coming years.

It was a pleasure to see George W. Bush get on the helicopter and head towards Texas. Enjoy this graphic and feel free to forward to friends!

Go back to Texas

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Say “Bye Bye Bush” with a Farewell Card and a Donation

Finally after eight grueling years, the end is in sight. The curtain will officially come down on this horrific show on January 20, 2009.

Celebrate that day and wave good bye with one of these three cards. For a suggested donation of $5 (or more) Choice Matters will send your personalized card to George W. at the White House.

Send one in honor of your sister, your mother, your aunt! Send one as a holiday gift to a friend. We will send them a personal thank you telling them of your thoughtfulness!