Following the House's passage on Saturday by a vote of 220-215, the Senate cleared the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act to be sent to the White House today by a vote of 54-44. According to the Older Women's League (OWL), the Medicare Prescription Drug bill (H.R. 1) will cause millions to lose their employer-sponsored health insurance and many will face increases in premiums as they are forced into private demonstration projects and private insurance companies reap billions of dollars in tax cuts in subsidies.
A filibuster in the Senate this weekend, led by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), failed by a cloture vote of 70-29 yesterday. Immediately following the cloture vote, Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) made a point of order against the bill claiming it violated various provisions in the Fiscal 2004 Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 95), the Congressional Quarterly reports. Sen. Daschle's point of order failed by a vote of 61-39.
As women account for more than 70% of the elderly poor and comprise the majority of those who are on both Medicare and Medicaid, women will suffer the greatest impact of these proposed changes. The National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO) has joined with OWL and other individual women's organizations, including the Feminist Majority and the National Women's Law Center, and consumer and labor organizations in opposition to this legislation. According to the National Women's Law Center, "this proposal is harmful to the poorest and sickest women who's out of pocket expenses would increase above what Medicaid currently allows and co-payments would dramatically increase further in future years."
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .