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While the Senate Finance Committee tinkers with the Baucus Bill,
First Lady Michelle Obama is taking center stage in the health care
reform debate. Obama’s director of communications announced last week
that the FLOTUS would be focusing on the health care needs of women and children. Mindful of the conservative backlash
against Hillary Clinton’s crusade for health care reform, Mrs. Obama is
expected to steer clear of policy issues, according to Salon’s Judy
Tying health reform to women’s health is a smart political move. The Far Right lured anti-choicers into a corporatist tax revolt with tall
tales of tax-payer funded abortions. Now the White House is reminding
Progressives that it cares, in a very general, non-policy kind of way,
about women’s health. While Progressives will appreciate the White
House shining a spotlight on reproductive health, it won’t mean much
without policy specifics. It certainly won’t make up for the President
Obama’s waffling on the public option.
The failure of the private insurance system has galvanized Dr.
Willie Parker, an obstetrician/gynecologist active in Physicians for
Reproductive Choice and Health, as a passionate advocate for health
care reform. In a piece on Rewire (originating with American Forum), Dr. Parker tells how the status quo
falls short on women’s health care:
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I am not talking about withholding the latest,
cutting-edge, exorbitantly priced medications or treatments. No—I’ve
had patients whose health insurance doesn’t cover such basic health
needs as Pap smears and birth control prescriptions. And forget about
having a baby—many insurance policies don’t cover prenatal care or
labor and delivery, or they treat pregnancy as a pre-existing condition.
In the Progressive, Mike Ervin reminds us that disability issues
are also getting short shrift in the health care debate. Ervin takes
aim at a Medicaid system that won’t help until a person is completely
destitute. He suggests that a robust public option might be a lifeline
before disability erases the savings of a lifetime.
This week, expect the wheeling and dealing on the Baucus Bill to
continue behind the scenes as the Finance Committee marks up the
legislation before the final committee vote. But with Sen Olympia
Snowe’s (R-Maine) 60th vote in doubt,
there are rumblings about reviving budget reconciliation as an option
for passing a health bill in the senate with a simple majority.
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