Overhaul Will Lower the Costs of Being a Woman

Peggy Robertson and her sons, Sam, 9, and Luke, at their home in Centennial, Colo. An insurance company rejected Ms. Robertson because of her Caesarean, explaining in a letter that she would have been eligible if she had been sterilized.

By DENISE GRADY
Published: March 29, 2010 in NY TIMES

Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition. That’s the new mantra, repeated triumphantly by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and other advocates for women’s health. But what does it mean?

In the broadest sense, the new health care law forbids sex discrimination in health insurance. Previously, there was no such ban, and insurance companies took full advantage of the void.

“The health care industry and health care insurance in general has been riddled with the most discriminatory and unfair practices to women,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, the founder and co-president of the National Women’s Law Center. “This law is a giant leap forward to dismantling the unfairness that has been a part of the system.”

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care. The rationale was that women used the health care system more than men. But some companies charged women who did not smoke more than men who did, even though smokers have more risks. The differences in premiums, from 4 percent to 48 percent, according to a 2008 analysis by the law center, can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. The individual market is the one that many people turn to when they lose their jobs and their group coverage. Click here for full article.

Chicago NOW Health Team Meeting

Event: Chicago NOW Health Team Meeting
What: Club/Group Meeting
When: Tuesday, March 30, 6:30pm-8:00pm
Where: T’s Bar and Restaurant

RSVP: chicagonow.org@gmail.com

Come Make a Difference!
This will be a fun, casual meeting where you can meet like-minded feminists and learn about our upcoming volunteer opportunities in Women’s Health. We are interested in hearing your ideas as well!

About us:
The Chicago NOW Health Team aims to have an impact on health issues that affect women disproportionately in order to improve the health of all women in Chicago.

Fearing conservative social policies, womens’ groups start offensive against Brady

By Adrian G. Uribarri
March 09, 2010

If state Sen. Bill Brady’s race against Gov. Pat Quinn comes anywhere as close as his campaign against Kirk Dillard, then one thing is for sure: It won’t be womens’ groups that push him over the edge.

Nearly eight months before the general election, advocates for abortion rights and equal-pay legislation have formally begun denouncing Brady, the Republican nominee for governor.

In a press conference this morning, leaders from several progressive organizations in the state portrayed Brady as a religiously motivated and extremely socially conservative candidate, unfit to serve women who want control over their reproductive and financial health.

“I literally shuddered at the notion of him in the governor’s office,” said Beth Kanter of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. “Illinois women cannot afford Bill Brady in the governor’s office.”

Michelle Staeger, at the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women, said his opposition to legislation that requires equal pay for women as for men in similar positions shows he is out of touch with reality.

“He’s simply ignoring the fact that there is still discrimination, based on gender, in the workplace,” Staeger said. She called his voting record in the Illinois General Assembly, where he has served more than 16 years, “troubling” and “alarming, in fact.”

Jaime Elich, Brady’s campaign spokeswoman, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Today’s unequivocal statements mark a first wave of resistance to Brady’s campaign outside of Quinn’s own camp. Last week, the governor released a statement in response to Brady’s nomination that clearly targeted his social positions.

“The Republican nominee is from the extreme right wing of the party and far from the mainstream of Illinois voters,” Quinn campaign spokeswoman Mica Matsoff wrote.

She cited his past opposition to the Family Medical Leave Act, equal-pay legislation and raising the minimum wage, as well as his support for legislation that would ban abortions, even for women who were raped or victims of incest.

The womens’ advocates echoed those sentiments today, strongly endorsing Quinn as their ally on those very issues.

Terry Cosgrove, president of the Personal Political Action Committee, pressed reporters to ask Brady what kind of penalties he would impose on women who illegally sought abortions or emergency contraceptives.

He joked that building prisons for them would not be his idea of a jobs plan.

“His extremist agenda has to be rejected by the people of Illinois,” Cosgrove said.

Lynda DeLaforgue, co-chair of Citizen Action Illinois, said Brady ranked second to last in an analysis of state legislators who ranked “poor” in their positions on social issues, as compared to the consumer organization’s progressive agenda.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, the staunch Rockford conservative, was last on the list.

“Sen. Brady has time and again voted against the needs of average Illinois families,” DeLaforgue said. “Consumer issues are womens’ issues.”

Perhaps nothing illustrated that more clearly during today’s event than its setting, the downtown Chicago offices of Environmental Design International Inc.

Deborah Sawyer, head of the firm, said that being a woman — and a minority, in her case — is especially challenging in a nontraditional industry for women such as civil engineering. Among other things, her firm helps construction companies mitigate environmental impacts from their building projects.

“We need a supportive, women-friendly governor to succeed,” Sawyer said.

Sign a Petition to Protect a Woman’s Right to Choose!

From our friends at Planned Parenthood…

When it passed a historic health care reform bill, the House also adopted the Stupak amendment, a dangerous piece of legislation that would ban abortion from private and public insurance plans for millions of American women. Fortunately, the fight for women’s health didn’t end in the House, and our sharp focus is now on the Senate. We are demanding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ensure that language similar to the Stupak amendment does not become part of the Senate health care reform bill.

Take Action NOW!