I spend much of my day reading and writing about health care reform and often it seems as if it is all bad news. But today I was pleasantly surprised. The Department of Health and Human Services adopted all eight of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations on women’s preventive health services. This means that after August 1, 2012 more women will be able to access the health care they deserve. Stop and think about that for a moment; a woman will be able to go to her doctor for a well-woman visit without worrying about whether she can afford another co-pay. More women will be able to access their preferred contraceptive method. More women will be able to obtain HIV testing.
More American women will have access to the tools they need to become and stay healthy. This is a historic moment.
But before we get too excited we have to acknowledge that we’re in the midst of another historic moment and it is also particularly important to women. Unfortunately this one is not good news. Congress is currently in the process of passing legislation to raise the debt ceiling and address the deficit by making cuts to important social programs. The process itself has been maddening and confusing. If you want to know more about the specifics of the current deal go here, but the exact details are not what I want to address.
What we should focus on is the stark reality that women, and women of color in particular, are the ones who will be most affected by this legislation. Poverty has a female face. Women are the ones who are utilizing Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare to ensure that they are able to eat and go to the doctor. It is unacceptable that we are jeopardizing the long-term well being of women in order to maintain a taxation system that only benefits a select few.