As the Republicans Take Tampa, Consider What a GOP Victory Would Mean for Women’s Health

For decades, Republicans have opposed abortion. This, we know, and so it comes as no surprise that Mitt Romney, the Party’s presidential candidate, has called “Roe vs. Wade“ one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history.” 

But what some call the “war against women” is escalating.  This year, the Republican platform calls for a constitutional amendment that would make abortion illegal.

In 1976, the GOP blueprint acknowledged that “the question of abortion is one of the most difficult and controversial of our time,” and the Party called for “a continuance of the public dialogue on abortion,” which it called a “moral and personal issue.”  Just eight years ago, the preamble to the Republican platform declared: “we respect and accept that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing views.”  But today, there is no such language in a platform that calls for “a human life amendment to the Constitution,” and declares that “abortion is detrimental to women’s health and well-being.”

Meanwhile Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Ohio all have passed legislation outlawing abortion after 20 weeks, even though, as the Center for American Progress’  Emillie Openchowski points out “complications are sometimes discovered after this point in a pregnancy that could cause serious harm to the woman. In those states, a woman would be forced to continue the pregnancy, no matter the risk to her health.”  This is frightening.

While Republicans parade women across their Tampa stage– and avoid talking about what they have quietly embedded in the Party platform–it seems a good time to consider what a Republican victory would mean for women’s health.

Turning Back the Clock: Contraception 

Susan Faludi’s Pulitzer-prize winning 1991 book, Backlash, is subtitled: “The Undeclared War Against American Women.” Twenty-one years later, it seems the war is out in the open . As a recent New York Times editorial observes:  “Having won on abortion, social conservatives are turning to birth control.”

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When Patients are Blind-Sided by Phantom Providers

By Maggie Mahar

Regular reader, author (108
), and patient advocate Lisa Lindell recently sent me a story that
aired on her CBS television affiliate in Houston. It’s a tale I have heard before, but what is
shocking is that no one has managed to find a solution to such a patently
unfair wrinkle in our health care system.” Even strongman California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has not been
able to the break the deadlock between doctors and insurers
over whether surgeons have a right to charge $2,000 to $3,000 an hour—and
whether the patient should be stuck with a bill that the insurer won’t pay.

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The Score: Physicians 355; Insurers 59: Blood on the Senate Floor

By Maggie Mahar

Writing on Health Care Policy and Market Place
Review over the week-end, Bob Laszewski called what happened in the Senate last
week : “ the most amazing turn of events I have seen in 20 years of following health care policy in
Washington, DC.”

It all began Tuesday, when the House voted 355 to 59 to block a pay cut for physicians. As regular
readers know, Medicare is scheduled to slash physicians’ fees tomorrow (July 1)
by an average of 10.6 percent across the board. Another 5 percent cut is
scheduled for January 1, 2009
. Some physicians have
threatened that if legislators take an axe to their fees, they will stop taking
Medicare patients

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The Cream of Health Care Posts

This week, over at Disease Management Care
Jaan Sidorov
hosts Honk Wonk Review, a compendium of the best
health care posts of the past two weeks. Sidorov offers a tasty buffet, with
links to all of the posts.

 Just a few highlights:

At Health Access
Anthony Wright  is on the news as he  rails against private insurers who explicitly factor in gender (care to guess if males pay
more or less?) and a past history of a caesarian section in their health insurance pricin . (Elizabeth
also weighs in on this topic here.)

On InsureBlog, H.G. Stern reviews Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s pessimistic economic assessment of
health care
. “It costs a lot. It’s going to cost more. Information tech
doesn’t hold a candle to growing demand paired with . . . ever pricier treatment options. And we
are all going to pay for it.”

Julie Ferguson, of Worker’s Comp Insider fame, posts about I.T.
behemoth Google’s foray into the electronic medical-personal-health
with links summarizing both the benefits and the problems.

To peruse the full
go directly to Disease
Management Care Blog.


Should Progressive Reformers Talk about Reining in the Cost of Care?

It seems that John McCain may have stolen some of the fire that
Democrats traditionally wield on health issues
by making cost
control his top priority
, rather than universal coverage.” –
Cunningham, “Health Affairs” May/June

Last week, the bold proposal for health care reform that Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel
outlines in Healthcare, Guaranteed drew
high praise from the American Prospect’s
Ezra Klein. As
Klein described it:

Emanuel’s Guaranteed Health Care
Access Plan
maps out “a total transformation
of the system.  It does not build on the
inefficiencies of the current structure, preserving them in amber for the next

Rather than expanding on the
dysfunctional system that we have today, Emanuel, who is the director of
bioethics at NIH (and brother to politician Rahm Emanuel), is calling for
structural reform. This is what makes his proposal both brave and fresh.

But Emanuel’s plan isn’t just
exciting; it’s practical. As usual, Klein cuts to the heart of the matter: “the big deal, he explains is
cost control. In health care, cost control is everything

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written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Century
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About Maggie Mahar

Maggie Mahar
Maggie Mahar is a fellow at The Century Foundation and the author of Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much (Harper/Collins 2006) and Bull! A History of the Boom, 1982–1999 (Harper/Collins, 2003), a book that Warren Buffett recommended in Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report.

Before beginning to specialize in health care, Mahar was a financial journalist. She has written for Institutional Investor, The New York Times, and Barron’s, where she served first as senior writer and then as senior editor from the late eighties through the late nineties. There, she covered Wall Street, Washington, and social policy as well as markets and politics in Russia, Japan, and the Middle East. After leaving Barron’s, she wrote a column about international markets and economics for Bloomberg.

Before becoming a journalist, Maggie Mahar was an English professor at Yale University, from which she holds a B.A. and a Ph.D. in English literature. She lives in Manhattan where she continues to blog and write about health care.

This spring, her cover story in Dartmouth Medicine took a critical look at Medicare spending—and how Medicare reform could pave the way for health care reform—while on, her review of “Sicko” stirred controversy. On the same site, she has discussed whether non-profit hospitals deserve their tax breaks.

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