health care access


New Spending Bill Adds Abortion Coverage For Peace Corps Rape Victims

File this under: “About #$@%&*! Time.

Tucked away in the recently passed $1.1 trillion federal spending bill is a provision that, according to women’s health and abortion rights advocates, is long overdue, ending a 35-year-old ban. The new measure offers abortion coverage to Peace Corps volunteers victimized by rape, incest or facing a life-threatening pregnancy; similar coverage is already provided to federal employees.

Bryan Dwyer, director of Peace Corps and Training in Kigali, Rwanda, and a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador from 2000-2002, expressed his strong approval for the new measure:

As both an RPCV [Returned Peace Corps Volunteer] and staff member, I am very pleased that PC [Peace Corps] Volunteers will now be afforded this protection, even as I earnestly hope that no one ever needs to avail herself of it.

Another former Peace Corps employee I talked to was a bit more blunt:

In a long overdue concession to reality, conservative members of Congress no longer forced their abusive “no choice no matter what” policy on women in the Peace Corps. For far too many years, they had prevailed in insisting that women who choose to serve our country who had been raped and impregnated should be repaid with no health care coverage to end those pregnancies. I am glad this truly appalling policy is finally at an end.

Edson Chilundo/flickr

Edson Chilundo/flickr

Here are more details and background in a Glamour magazine report:

Over the weekend, the Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that includes a provision to provide abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

It’s an important win for reproductive rights advocates in a year plagued by restrictions on abortion and other women’s health measures. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law, granting Peace Corps volunteers and trainees the same type of abortion coverage offered to federal employees….

Currently, just over 60 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are female, and many of them work in areas with little to no access to safe, reliable health care. Continue reading

Really? SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden ‘Screwed’ Out Of Health Care?

(Esquire magazine)

(Esquire magazine)

Here’s a bit of a brouhaha that’s sure to fuel newsstand sales of Esquire magazine:

Under the irresistible headline “The Man Who Killed Osama Bin Laden…Is Screwed,” Esquire Magazine posts here its cover story for March. It begins:

For the first time, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden tells his story — speaking not just about the raid and the three shots that changed history, but about the personal aftermath for himself and his family. And the startling failure of the United States government to help its most experienced and skilled warriors carry on with their lives.

But now confusion and controversy is swirling over whether, in fact, the man identified only as “the shooter” will in fact be quite so screwed. NPR’s ‘the two-way’ blog covers the back-and-forth here, including the latest at this writing:

Update at 8:12 p.m. ET. SEAL Is Eligible For Benefits
Stars and Stripes is reporting that all combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
The newspaper also interviews Phil Bronstein, who wrote the Esquire piece. You can visit the Stars and Stripes website to see what he said.

Readers? Perhaps the point here is that we live in a country where it is even possible that a long-serving soldier could lack health care. Whatever your viewpoint, you may get a dark laugh out of this trenchant comment on NPR:

He can write “I killed Osama” on his resume. That is good for any mall cop position in America.

(Hat-tip to Ben Swasey)

Mystery Medicaid Shoppers Coming To Massachusetts?

Columbus Business First reports here:

It can be difficult to line up that first appointment with a new family doctor, but is it harder if you’re on Medicaid, or have a host of chronic ailments?

The federal government is planning a “mystery shopper” approach to find the pinch points in availability of primary care physicians, according to a Federal Register notice.

The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking approval for a study in which researchers will call more than 4,100 doctors’ offices in nine states and seek appointments posing as patients “with a range of medical needs.” Each office will get two calls, one from someone posing as a privately insured patient, and once from a simulated patient on Medicare or Medicaid.

The nine states are Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Anybody want to predict what the “mystery shopper” here in Massachusetts will encounter? I fear it won’t be pretty…

Here’s the Federal Register describing the plan and seeking comment. And here’s another report on the plan, followed by comments.
Hat-tip to my eternal hero, Herald grad Tom Mashberg, for amazing story-spotting.