Political Diagnosis: The New Sisterhood in Washington; Lawmakers Get REAL on Sex Education; Panel to Advise on Comparative Effectiveness Research ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — March 23, 2009

The New Sisterhood: Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post writes about the ascent of black women in the new Obama administration: “The ‘Obama women’ — as African American women who’ve taken big jobs in his administration have been nicknamed — mark another step in the long journey of black women from outsiders to gatekeepers in political Washington. They have quietly entered their jobs with little attention paid to the fact that they are the largest contingent of high-ranking black women to work for a president.”

Time, Again, to Get REAL: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) this week introduced a bill called the Responsible Education about Life (REAL) Act that would authorize funding  for comprehensive and medically accurate sex education. Believe it or not, federal funding is only available now for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. And we know how well that’s been working.

Spending Strategy Advisers Named: The U.S. Health and Human Services Department on Thursday named a panel of 15 government experts to advise the government on how to spend the $1.1 billion on determining which medical treatments work best. The money was set aside in the stimulus bill.  Rachel has more on comparative effectiveness research, a new focus of the Obama administration.

Plus: HHS announced Dr. David Blumenthal, a former Harvard Medical School professor and political adviser on health care issues, as the  national coordinator for health information technology. In this new role, Blumenthal “will lead the implementation of a nationwide interoperable, privacy-protected health information technology infrastructure as called for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” according to the release.

A Reason to Fast Track Coverage: “Health care is one of the few relatively healthy parts of our unhealthy economy right now,” writes Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation president and CEO.

“Since January 2008, the economy has lost 4.3 million non-farm jobs. Virtually all major industries have shed jobs. What went up? Well, mining and logging companies added modestly to their payrolls. Government and education employment is up somewhat, along with social assistance (not too surprising given our economic circumstances). But where did employment go up the most since January of last year? You guessed it: Health care, which added 383,200 jobs.” Read on.

Small Business Takes on Reform: The National Small Business Association today launched a new website, Health Reform Today, advocating for a federally defined benefits package, subsidies for low-income individuals and tax incentives.

White House Forum in Iowa: The third Regional White House Forum on Health Reform takes place today in Des Moines, Iowa. Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office on Health Reform, will represent the administration. The Des Moines Register website will carry the event live at 10 a.m.

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