Today the White House holds another Health Care Stakeholder Discussion, this time with women’s groups, and keeping with the tradition of transparency in these meetings that goes back to the original White House Forum on Health Reform, it will be streamed at our very own WhiteHouse.gov/live
There’s no question that the problems with the current health care system affect everybody, but as the recent HHS report
demonstrated women in particular are struggling with rising health care costs and finding quality, affordable health care. Today’s discussion will be hosted by White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle, Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, and Office of Public Engagement Director Tina Tchen, who also joined HHS Secretary Sebelius at a roundtable
with women small business owners a few weeks ago.
Rebecca Adelman of the Department of Health and Human Services gives us a play-by-play:
12:35: In the final minutes of the meeting, the discussion revolved around ways these stakeholder groups can help in the health reform effort. Many participants noted the strong enthusiasm for health care reform around the country, and the importance of a public education plan as details of the proposal are announced. As Tina Tchen closed the meeting by expressing her intention to work in cooperation with the stakeholder groups in the months ahead, several participants praised the administration for understanding that health care reform is not just a top down process, but a bottom up process.
12:20: There is wide agreement about the need for health care reform among the diverse constituencies at the meeting. Sabrina Corlette, Director of Health Policy Programs at the National Partnership of Women and Families, notes that as a plan is crafted in Congress, it is crucially important that the plan's details are transparent and easily understandable so that women and their families can make informed choices about their health care options.
12:05: The shortage.of nurses and primary care physicians is another issue about which many of the participants are expressing concern. Some women in America have health insurance, but no doctors, or they visit their OB-GYN as their primary care physician because of doctor shortages in many communities.
11:49: The impressive group of stakeholders are delving quickly into the issues of health care quality and affordability. How do we address health care disparities? How do we achieve equity in health care? Many of the participants are emphasizing that women are required to pay more for health care coverage than men, excluding the cost of maternity coverage. Marcia Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women's Law Center, says that the issue of affordability cannot be underscored enough.
11:38: Tina Tchen and Melody Barnes thank the stakeholders for joining the meeting. Both are expressing how much of a priority health care reform is for President Obama this year. Melody Barnes explains that as she traveled around the country for the Regional White House forums on health reform over the past three months, she heard stories that she brings with her to work every day. Neera Tanden, Counselor to HHS Secretary Sebelius, says that now is the moment when our work on health care reform over the last decade could come to fruition: "This is the moment where the rubber hits the road."
11:35: Nancy-Ann DeParle just opened the Women's Health Care Stakeholder meeting. This is a remarkable gathering of 30 women who are here to discuss how we can make the health care system work for women. Premiums in the private market for young women are often higher than they are for men, and 21 million women and girls went without health insurance in 2007. To set the scene: sitting beside Nancy-Ann at the table are Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House, Director of the Office of Public Engagement Tina Tchen, and HHS's Neera Tanden. Nancy-Ann emphasized in her opening remarks that this meeting is just one way we are hearing from women as we work to reform our health care system this year.