Often missing inside the health care debate: Women's voices

This specific state line divides the Medicaid debate

Women, in particular, have a lot at stake inside the fight over the future of health care.

Not only do many depend on insurance coverage for maternity care in addition to also contraception, they are struck more often by such diseases as autoimmune conditions, osteoporosis, breast cancer in addition to also depression. They are more likely to be poor in addition to also depend on Medicaid — in addition to also to live longer in addition to also depend on Medicare. in addition to also which commonly falls to them to plan health care in addition to also coverage for the whole family.

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Yet in recent months, as leaders in Washington discussed the future of American health care, women were not always allowed inside the room. To hammer out (behind closed doors) the Senate’s initial type of a bill to replace Obamacare, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed 12 colleagues, all male. Some Congress members made clear they don’t see issues like childbirth as a male concern. Why, two GOP representatives wondered aloud during the House debate This specific spring, should men pay for maternity or prenatal coverage?

which will be telling, perhaps, which two of the three GOP senators to kill the Republican’s repeal bill were women. Though Arizona senator John McCain’s vote was most heralded by the bill’s opponents, senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in addition to also Susan Collins of Maine voiced objections all along, including to plans to suspend Planned Parenthood funding. in addition to also for their opposition they were pilloried — even threatened — by members of their own party.

Republican repeal efforts are stalled, for currently, although the fate of America’s health care system remains highly uncertain.

Many of the programs women depend on are still targets, most especially Medicaid, which pays for about half of U.S. births. Some programs are already shrinking under the Republican-controlled government — federal funding for teen pregnancy prevention in addition to also research, for example. In addition, states have been empowered to cut Title X family planning programs.

Related: Medicaid covers a lot more people than you may think

Discussion over health reform shows some signs of becoming more open in addition to also bipartisan, perhaps bringing more women’s perspectives to the debate.

although women are hardly speaking in unison when which comes to overhauling health care. “Women’s health” means very different things to different people, based on their backgrounds in addition to also ages. A 20-year-old may care more about how to get free contraception, while a 30-year-old may be more concerned about maternity coverage. Women in their 50s might be worried about access to mammograms, in addition to also those in their 60s may fear not being able to afford insurance before Medicare kicks in at 65.

Many older women vividly recall when abortion inside the U.S. was performed dangerously in addition to also illicitly; some fought hard for the right to choose termination which was affirmed inside the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Still, nearly 45 years later, the nation remains at war over abortion, in addition to also women are on both sides of which battle. More than a third say which should be illegal in most or all cases.

To get a richer sense of women’s viewpoints on health care as the national debate continues, Kaiser Health News asked several around the country in addition to also across generations to share their thoughts in addition to also personal experiences.

Patricia Loftman, 68

fresh York City

Loftman spent 30 years as a certified nurse-midwife at Harlem Hospital Center in addition to also remembers treating women coming in after having botched abortions.

Some didn’t survive.

“which was a definitely bad time,” Loftman said. “Women should not have to die just because they don’t want to have a child.”

women healthcare patricia loftman
Patricia Loftman

When the Supreme Court ruled which women had a constitutional right to an abortion, Loftman remembers feeling relieved. currently she’s angry in addition to also scared about the prospect of stricter controls. “Those of us who lived through which just cannot imagine going back,” she said.

A mother in addition to also grandmother, Loftman also recalls clearly when the birth control pill became legal inside the 1960s. She was in nursing school in upstate fresh York in addition to also glad to have another, more convenient option for contraception. Already, women were gaining more independence, in addition to also the Pill “just added to which sense of increased freedom in addition to also choice.”

To her, conservatives’ attack on Planned Parenthood, which already has closed many clinics in several states, will be frustrating because the organization also provides primary in addition to also reproductive health care to many poor women who wouldn’t be able to get which otherwise.

currently retired, Loftman sits on the board of the American College of Nurse-Midwives in addition to also advocates for better care for minority women.

“There continues to be a dramatic racial in addition to also ethnic disparity inside the outcome of pregnancy in addition to also health for African-American women in addition to also women of colour,” she said.

Terrisa Bukovinac, 36

San Francisco

Bukovinac calls herself a passionate anti-abortion activist. As president of Pro-Life Future of San Francisco, she participates in marches in addition to also protests to demonstrate her opposition to abortion.

“Our preliminary goal will be defunding Planned Parenthood,” she said. “which will be crucial to our mission.”

women healthcare terrisa bukovinac
Terrisa Bukovinac

As much as the organization touts itself as being a place where people get primary care in addition to also contraception, “abortion will be their primary business type,” Bukovinac said.

She said the vast majority of abortions are not justifiable in addition to also which she supports a woman’s right to an abortion only in cases which threaten the patient’s life. “We are opposed to what we consider elective abortions,” she said.

Bukovinac said she also tries to help women in crisis get financial assistance so they don’t end their pregnancies just because they can’t afford to have a baby. “We have to help women obtain the resources necessary to sustain their pre-born children’s lives,” she said.

She supports women’s access to health insurance in addition to also health care, both of which are costly for many. “Certainly the more people who are covered, the better which will be” for both the mother in addition to also baby.

Bukovinac, however, will be uninsured because she said the premiums cost more than she would likely typically pay for care. Self-employed in e-commerce, Bukovinac includes a disorder which causes vertigo in addition to also ringing inside the ear in addition to also spends about $300 per month on medication for which in addition to also for anxiety.

She doesn’t know if the Affordable Care Act will be to blame, although she said which before the law “I was able to afford health insurance in addition to also currently I’m not.”

Irma Castaneda, 49

Huntington Beach, Calif.

Castaneda will be a breast cancer survivor. She’s been in remission for several years although still sees her oncologist annually in addition to also undergoes mammograms, ultrasounds in addition to also blood tests.

The married mom of three, a teacher’s aide to special-education students, will be worried which Republicans may make insurance more expensive for people like her, with preexisting conditions. “They could make our premiums go sky-high,” she said. “I didn’t ask to get cancer.”

women healthcare irma castenada
Irma Castaneda

Her family previously purchased a plan on Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange. although Castaneda said the plan had a high deductible, so she had to come up having a lot out-of-pocket before insurance kicked in.

“I was paying medical bills up the yin-yang,” she said. “I felt like I was paying so much due to This specific crappy plan.”

Related: As Delaware’s health insurance options shrink, families hold their breath

Then, about a year ago, Castaneda’s husband got injured at work in addition to also the family’s income dropped in half. currently they are relying on Medicaid, the government program for low-income people, until he starts working again. Becoming eligible for Medicaid was a “blessing in disguise,” she said, because which meant fewer out-of-pocket expenses for health care.

Whatever the coverage, Castaneda said, she needs high-quality health care. “God forbid I get sick again,” she said. which’s essential for her teenage daughter, too, she said. Her daughter will be transgender in addition to also receives specialized physical in addition to also mental health care.

“Right currently she will be pretty lucky because there will be coverage for her,” Castaneda said. “With the Trump stuff, what’s going to happen then?”

Celene Wong, 39


The choice was agonizing for Wong. A few months into her pregnancy, she in addition to also her husband learned which her fetus had chromosomal abnormalities. The baby would likely have had severe special needs, she said.

“We always said we couldn’t handle which,” Wong said. “We had to make a tough decision, in addition to also which will be not a decision which most people ever have to face.”

The couple terminated the pregnancy in January 2016, when she was about 18 weeks pregnant. “At the end of the day, everybody will be going to go away except for your husband in addition to also you in addition to also This specific little baby,” she said. “We did our research. We knew what we would likely’ve been getting into.”

Wong, who works to improve the experience for patients at a local hospital, said she will be fortunate to have been able to make the choice which was right for her family. “If the [abortion] law adjustments, what will be going to happen with which next generation?” she said.

Most of Wong’s care was covered by insurance through her job although she worries about those who rely on Planned Parenthood for reproductive health care. She said the organization should change its name to “Women’s Health.”

“If you are saying you want to end funding for women’s health, people are going to be more up in arms about which,” she said.

Lorin Ditzler, 33

Des Moines, Iowa

Ditzler will be frustrated which her insurance coverage may be a deciding factor in her family planning. She quit her job last year to take care of her two-year-old son in addition to also was able to get on her husband’s plan, which doesn’t cover maternity care.

women healthcare lorin ditzler
Lorin Ditzler

If she gets pregnant accidentally, she says, they would likely be in a real bind. “To me which seems very obvious which our system isn’t set up in a way to support giving birth in addition to also raising very little children.”

While maternity benefits are required under the Affordable Care Act, her husband’s plan will be grandfathered under the old rules, not uncommon among employers which offer coverage. Skirting maternity coverage might become more common if Republicans in Congress succeed in passing a replacement proposal which allows states to no longer consider maternity coverage an “essential benefit.”

Ditzler looked into switching to an Obamacare plan which they could buy through the exchange, although the rates were much higher, in addition to also she has only a short window to sign up each year on the exchange.

“which’s already This specific big decision where we don’t know if we’re going to have another kid or when,” says Ditzler. “When Jan. 1 came around, we had to decide if we were going to try to get pregnant This specific year. in addition to also if we changed our mind, well too bad.”

If she went back to work, she could get on a better insurance plan which covers maternity care. although which makes little sense to her. “I would likely go back to a full-time job so I could have a second child, although if I do which, which will be less appealing in addition to also less feasible to have a second child because I’d be working full time.”

Ashley Bennett, 34

Spartanburg, S.C.

Bennett, who will be devoutly Christian, will be grateful which she was able to plan her family the way she wanted, with the help of birth control. She had her daughter at 22 in addition to also her son two years later.

“I felt free to make which choice, which I think will be an awesome thing,” she said. She’s advised her 12-year-old daughter to wait for sex until marriage although has also been open with her about birth control within the context of marriage.

women healthcare ashley bennett
Ashley Bennett

although she draws the line at abortion. “I just feel like we’re playing God. If which conception happens, then I feel like which was meant to be.”

Bennett had apprehensions about Trump although voted for him because he was the anti-abortion candidate. “which was the deciding factor for me, [more than] him yelling about how he’s going to build a wall.”

She added which opposition to abortion must be coupled with support for babies once they are born — something she says not all Christians emphasize enough. She supports adoption in addition to also will be planning to become a foster parent.

Related: Paid parental leave may be one of the few ideas which transcends politics

She also will be concerned about the mental in addition to also physical well-being of young women. Bennett teaches seventh-grade math in addition to also coaches the school’s cheerleading in addition to also dance teams.

She watches the girls take dozens of photos of themselves to get the perfect shot, then add filters to add makeup or slim them down.

“There’s going to be an aftermath which we haven’t even thought about,” she said. “I worry we’re going to have more in addition to also more kids suffering through depression, eating disorders in addition to also even suicide because of the effects of the social media.”

Maya Guillén, 24

El Paso, Texas

When Guillén was growing up, her family spent years without health insurance. They crossed the border into Juárez, Mexico, for dental care, doctor appointments in addition to also optometry visits. “I remember feeling safe, because which was so cheap.”

women healthcare maya guillen
Maya Guillén

Guillén will be currently on her parents’ insurance plan, under a provision of the Affordable Care Act which allows children to stay on until they turn 26. She’s been disheartened by Republicans’ proposed adjustments to contraception in addition to also abortion coverage, she said.

In high school, Guillén received abstinence-only sex education. She watched her friends get pregnant before they had graduated.

When which came time to consider sex, she thought she’d be able to count on Planned Parenthood, although the clinic in El Paso has closed, as have 20 various other women’s health clinics in Texas. She worries which if Republicans defund Planned Parenthood, more young girls, especially those in predominantly Hispanic communities like hers, will not get access to, or education about, contraceptives.

Jaimie Kelton, 39

fresh York City

When Kelton’s wife gave birth to their baby three in addition to also a half years ago, she thought the country was finally becoming more open-minded toward gays in addition to also lesbians.

Kelton said she was lucky to live in fresh York City, where she said which doesn’t matter which her children have two moms. She thought which was how the majority of the country felt, especially after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015.

“currently I am coming to realize which we are the bubble in addition to also they are the majority in addition to also which’s definitely scary,” said Kelton, currently pregnant with her second child.

Kelton said which seems as though Republicans have launched a war against women in general, with reproductive rights in addition to also maternity care at risk.

“which will be crazy to think which most of the people producing these laws are men,” she said. “Why do they feel the need to take away health care rights through women?”

Phyllis Sandel, 89

Bothell, Wash.

Sandel, who lives in a retirement community outside Seattle, meets regularly with various other residents to talk about current events, including the push to repeal Obamacare. She’s concerned about the Republican proposals in addition to also their potential effects on women. “I think which’s going to be devastating,” she said.

women healthcare phyllis sandel
Phyllis Sandel

Sandel has been advocating for women’s rights for decades, since she volunteered for Planned Parenthood in Denver inside the 1960s. She signed up for phone banks inside the ’70s, in addition to also walked door-to-door in addition to also got signatures for petitions — all in support of the women’s movement in addition to also the Equal Rights Amendment. “I was one of a few people in my coffee klatch group who became active,” she said.

A former health care administrator in addition to also nursing home consultant, Sandel said legislators are inside the “wrong territory” in their push to defund Planned Parenthood in addition to also restrict access to abortion.

Related: Why a Pennsylvania insurer’s collapse could whack Californians

“Because we have such conservative control in our legislature, This specific will be going to be a hard fight. although we have to stand up for which,” she said.

She attended a caucus for Hillary Clinton during the election in addition to also said she was among a few “gray hairs” inside the room.

“I am encouraged by the number of young women who are active in addition to also participating in affecting change,” she said. “which wasn’t true when I was growing up.”

Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, will be an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation. KHN’s coverage in California will be funded in part by Blue Shield of California Foundation.

sy88pgw (fresh York) First published August 19, 2017: 10:19 AM ET

Often missing inside the health care debate: Women's voices

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