Political Diagnosis: Congress Approves Stimulus Package; Health Care for Women Act; Paging a New HHS Secretary; Hillary Clinton and the End of the Compromise Era on AIDS

February 14, 2009

Stimulus Bill Passes House & Senate: Congress tonight approved the $787 billion economic stimulus bill. The House voted 246-183. The Senate followed hours later, 60-38. As expected, passage rested almost entirely on Democrats, who persuaded only three Senate Republicans to cross party lines — and not one Republican in the House — despite numerous concessions. President Obama is expected to sign the bill on Monday.

The National Women’s Law Center today offered this assessment of the bill while urging support :

We are proud that the final bill contains many of the crucial provisions we fought so hard to include. The bill includes new funds to address the needs of women and families, including funding for child care and Head Start, child support enforcement, health care, education and job training. It strengthens the safety net for low-income families, helps eliminate barriers that disqualify women from claiming unemployment insurance benefits, and provides funding to enforce important worker protections, including civil rights laws. And it provides additional tax benefits for low- and middle-income people; the expansion of the refundable Child Tax Credit alone will help the families of 13 million children.

Health Care for Women Act: “Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Jan Schakowsky have introduced a resolution that recognizes reproductive health care as fundamental to women’s ability to lead healthy lives and to ensure that women’s health care concerns, including reproductive health needs, are included in the push for national health reform,” writes Emily Douglas at RH Reality Check.

If approved, Congress would commit to passing “within 18 months of adopting the resolution, legislation that guarantees health care for women and all individuals and establishes coverage that enables women to attain good health that they can maintain during their reproductive years and throughout their lives.”

Plus: Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health released a report, “Women’s Health and Health Care Reform: The Key Role of Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care.” Co-authors Wendy Chavkin from Columbia University and Sara Rosenbaum from George Washington University use data and evidence to show that “reproductive health is a key determinant of women’s overall health, and therefore, that the treatments and services that promote reproductive health should be part of any national health plan.”

Keeping Tabs: The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday announced that unless there are changes to federal policy, the number of Americans without health insurance will grow from about 45 million this year to about 54 million in 2019, reports the Associated Press.

Paging a New Secretary: “The leadership void at the top of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is affecting more than President Obama’s health reform agenda,” writes Jeffrey Young at The Hill. “Though the department is capable of fulfilling its day-to-day responsibilities as guardian of the nation’s public health, pharmaceuticals, foods, medical research and other areas, the continued lack of a secretary and of leaders at key agencies will delay the Obama administration from putting its stamp on the massive bureaucracy.”

Hillary Clinton and the End of the Compromise Era on AIDS: Last week we wrote about the controversial removal of Mark Dybul from the Office of Global AIDS Coordinator. In an article published Thursday at The American Prospect, Michelle Goldberg writes that the removal shows that under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the era of compromising with the religious right on global HIV prevention is over.

SCHIP Reauthorized, What Comes Next?: Now that Obama has signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 into law, Kaiser Network hosted a webcast with a panel of experts who address the next steps in children’s coverage, including such questions as: What is included in the new legislation? What impact will the new legislation have on coverage of uninsured children? What new tools will states have to reach and enroll uninsured children in Medicaid and CHIP? How will new funding affect state efforts to move forward? How will the deepening recession affect these efforts? What does reauthorization mean for broader health reform?


Action Items

* Say No to Abstinence-Only Programs

As President Obama begins work on his fiscal year 2010 budget, urge him to stop funding abstinence-only programs and direct our scarce public health resources to evidence-based programs that actually work.

Contact the White House (National Partnership for Women & Families)

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