NWHN in Action – January/February 2014

Taken from the January/February 2014 issue of the Women's Health Activist Newsletter.

Thanks to our members’ generous support, the NWHN is able to work on all fronts — advocating, collaborating, and educating in order to advance women's health. Here are some highlights of our work in the last few months:

Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need

What can more than 30 women from all across the country tell the White House about health care? Apparently, a lot! In September, the Network hosted the Raising Women's Voices (RWV) regional coordinators for a two-day meeting. Coordinators heard presentations on model community outreach programs and getting more states to move ahead with Medicaid expansion, and were trained on using Enroll America’s database. A highlight for the coordinators was a meeting with White House staff along with staff from the Dept. of Health and Human Services (the latter described our group as “one of the strongest organizations working to educate and engage consumers about the ACA.”) Keep up with the latest from RWV’s website, available at: www.raisingwomensvoices.net.

As health care reform implementation proceeds, the Network’s assistance for our state partners is increasingly vital. The Network hosts regular teleconferences and webinars to address the issues affecting coverage for women through the new Exchanges. As part of RWV, we also partnered with The Ms. Foundation for the Women 4 Health Care social media campaign (see graphic below and article, next page).

We’re also fighting to remedy inequities that exist in the law and its application. Lillian Hewko, Program Coordinator and Law Students for Reproductive Justice Fellow, developed comments in response to the Obama Administration’s request for information about experiences with discrimination in the health care system. As part of the comments, Lillian compiled stories submitted from RWV coordinators about women’s experiences, particularly those of women of color, young women, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Challenging Dangerous Drugs & Devices

You’d think the Network would not have to combat unproven claims about hormone therapy (HT) any longer, now that the evidence about it is so clear. Sadly, we still have our work cut out for us. In July, the American Journal of Public Health published a study making several unproven claims about HT’s “benefits” and asserting that 50,000 women died because they didn’t use HT. Deputy Director Amy Allina and Senior Program Coordinator Kate Ryan submitted a Letter to the Editor noting the study’s significant methodological flaws, lack of evidence for its claims, and the conflict of interest stemming from the author’s financial ties to a company that sells HT. Our letter (“Public Health or Private Profit?”) was published in the journal’s October edition (read it online at: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301592.)

In September, Kate attended the Preventing Over-diagnosis Conference at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy. The Network was one of the only consumer groups represented; Kate highlighted that many providers encourage patients to undergo unnecessary tests and treatments, driving up health care costs and risking patient health.

Securing Sexual & Reproductive Health and Autonomy

Tired of attacks on access to reproductive health care? So are the Network and our members! That’s why we joined the Center for Reproductive Right’s national 31 Days of Unity campaign: for the 31 days of August, reproductive rights, health, and justice groups joined together to urge Congress to stop attacks on equal access to safe, legal, and affordable reproductive health care. Thousands (including Network members) took action during the campaign, such as by submitting stories and photos to the campaign website and signing petitions to Members of Congress. Get engaged at: http://www.drawtheline.org/learn-more.

We kept up the momentum by promoting Abortion Access Month in September. As part of this effort, Kate Ryan co-wrote a blog about state attacks on medical abortion drugs, which you can read at: https://nwhn.org/2013/09/26/stop-state-attacks-medication-abortion.