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Yes, we’re in full damage control mode now. Nancy Brinker made a very long appearance on Andrea Mitchell’s show this morning to insist that this wasn’t about defunding Planned Parenthood, but really it is about “grant excellence.”
The clip above is toward the end of the interview and includes reaction from Senators Patty Murray and Barbara Boxer. What’s remarkable about Brinker’s appearance is her pivot away from the “under investigation” reason for terminating the grants to one of “grant excellence.” What, I wonder, does “grant excellence” mean? To me, it means they want a less incendiary excuse for a bad decision. she goes on about metrics but has no answer to questions about what metrics they evaluated and how Planned Parenthood failed to meet whatever expectations they had for the grant.
Brinker and the SGKF have another problem, too, which I’m sure relates to Brinker’s pivot to a new reason for the Planned Parenthood decision. it seems that Penn State is the subject of an ongoing investigation too.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which recently announced that it is ending grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening because of a controversial investigation launched by an anti-abortion Republican congressman, currently funds cancer research at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to the tune of $7.5 million. like Planned Parenthood, Penn State is currently the subject of a federal government investigation, and like the Planned Parenthood grant, the Penn State grant appears to violate a new internal rule at Komen that bans grants to organizations that are under investigation by federal, state, or local governments. but so far, only the Planned Parenthood grants appear to have been cancelled.
An internal Komen memo written by President Elizabeth Thompson and obtained by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic states that if “an applicant or its affiliates” is under investigation “for financial or administrative improprieties by local, state or federal authorities,” then “the applicant will be ineligible to receive a grant.” Penn State, the Pennsylvania university that the Hershey center is affiliated with, is currently under investigation by the federal government over the sexual assault scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who has been indicted on multiple counts of sexual abuse of children. In 2008, the Komen foundation awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant to the Hershey center to study treatments that could reduce the risk of breast cancer.
I do not believe that the cancer research at Penn State is affected by the Sandusky investigation. Similarly, I don’t believe that cancer screenings conducted by Planned Parenthood are affected by the fact that they provide abortion services. I cite this article to illustrate how weak Brinker’s—and by extension, the SGKF—claims that the decision to terminate Planned Parenthood’s grants related to pending investigations. It’s an absurd stance to take, and one that clearly comes out of pressure from the Catholic Church, the far right wing anti-abortion zealots in this country, and internal pressures by ideologues with agendas.
In less than 24 hours, a respected charity destroyed thirty years of goodwill and public relations, placed women’s health in danger and chose to abandon what should be a non-partisan effort to prevent a disease that doesn’t care if you’ve had an abortion or used birth control pills. Cancer just wants to kill you, not convert you to its politics.
Health care practitioners are a good medium to consult and find answers to your pregnancy related queries and inquiries. every parent desires to have a healthy baby. It helps to consult someone you trust. It could be a consultant, your mother, your close relative or books, if you have the habit of reading. a planned pregnancy keeps you satisfied at every stage of pregnancy and you are well prepared to handle the situations as they arise. how to slip into pregnancy quickly, what are the good foods to eat, what is the best age for pregnancy, what vaccinations are essential, what vitamins and minerals are essential, should you consult a pregnancy planning calendar, what foods or substances are harmful for your pregnancy, all these questions and more usually haunt all going-to- be parents. Planning pregnancy helps to avert situations, which make you anxious and create anxiety.
Keeping a Step ahead
Once you have a planned pregnancy you can find solutions for all problems that you envisage. As parents, you have taken a decision to bring another human being into life. Now it is your duty to see that you give the best of everything to your bundle of joy, and at the same time make sure that you do not lose any comfort for lack of planning. Conception planning helps you to understand the importance of remaining fit and healthy from the time you take the decision to become a parent. Which means regular exercise and morning and evening walks, good nourishing food throughout the day, a little meditation, watching TV and listening to music to remain stress free and keeping the environment in which you live neat and clean. if you accomplish all this and keep a working hand to take care of your daily chores getting pregnant or planning your second pregnancy would be a piece of cake.
Physical Fitness Is Essential
It is important to keep a check on your body mass index. a healthy body with ideal weight has a better chance of getting pregnant. In this context, if you know about ovulation and your best time to get pregnant you can greatly improve your chances for pregnancy. a planned pregnancy can help you to understand your ovulation period, which starts from the 14th day of your menstruation. Besides these you can also have many herbs and medicines to boost fertility in males and females, if you have any complications, in getting pregnant or your pregnancy is taking time even after taking due precautions.
Never undermine the importance of money matters even if you have a good source of income. Quick borrowing of money on important matters like the hospital bills, clothes for the baby, creams, gels, powders, crib, pram, painting and white washing, the piling list of grocery and medical items, travel and communication bills etc can make a big hole in the pocket. Therefore, a planned pregnancy can really be helpful in creating a pool of money, which can be used when your health insurance and other sources seem to run out of steam. if you are a person of limited means then you should start saving today and cut down on your expenses and save some money for the rainy day. usually, you stop getting payment from office six weeks after delivery; you should be ready to foot the bills after that. a planned pregnancy is like a friend who lends you help when you need it the most.
An estimated 22.5 million people are living with HIV in the part of African below the Sahara. this is a stunning statistic, around two-thirds of the global total. for instance, Ghana alone, there are approximately 260,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with 140,000 being women and 27000 being children. Ghana can count close to 160,000 orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS. in fact, Ghana is not among the worst hit countries; South Africa and Uganda for example, have worse numbers.
While this may sound like one of those statistics to some readers, but it is life and death to hundreds of families and institutions. The social and economic consequences of the AIDS epidemic are far and wide felt: in the African health sector, in education, industry, agriculture, human resources and the economy in general.
In terms of preventive or ‘prophylactic’ measures, the anti-HIV/AIDS campaign hitherto has riveted on promoting the use of the male condom. Despite the many years of anti-HIV campaigns focusing on the use of the male condom, the results so far do not match the efforts put in.
Regrettably, however, in many communities in Africa, it is a severely stamina-testing exercise to convince some men embrace the use of the male condom. It is a complex issue that borders on tradition, religion and ignorance. this is compounded by the fact that in almost all cases, it is the man who cleaves to power in sexual relationships. Customarily, in the African ‘sexist society’, the man can choose to have multiple wives or one wife with multiple sexual partners. A woman who practices such a modus vivendi is referred to as a prostitute. It is unfair and effluvium for the party who wields the power to also decide on the means of protection in sexual relationships. I regard it a woman’s right issue to guarantee that women have the wherewithal to protect themselves in sexual relations.
But what is wrong with the male condom?
The campaign to promote the male condom has been going on for decades with some progress. nevertheless, such progress does not well correlate with the efforts that have been expended. some of the pretexts some African men put forward in opposition to the use of condoms include the following:
- Condoms diminish pleasure or enjoyment of sex
- Condoms ruins the mood
- you cannot feel anything while wearing a condom
- if a women loves a man, then she you should just trust him
- in order for sex to be real, flesh must come into contact with flesh (of course, condoms make this pre-requisite unattainable)
• some even think it is sin to use the condoms during sex
For these reasons, I advocate that future anti-HIV campaigns adjust the current model and focus more on promoting the use of the female condom. The female condom should be promoted as an alternative to the male condom and should be available to all sexually active women. I believe that there should be a sharpened campaign to give credence to the female condom in African communities until it ultimately becomes a mainstream accessory in the woman’s purse.
In my next article, I will discuss the role governments, non-governmental organization and charities can play in promoting and making the female condom available to sexually active African women. in the mean you can read more about the female condom on my blog.
Two of the nation’s most iconic women’s health groups are engaged in a nasty fight that’s raising a lot of eyebrows.
The breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen For the Cure is pulling about $700,000 in breast cancer screening and service grants from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The money isn’t massive by either group’s bottom line: Komen raised more than $400 million in 2010; planned Parenthood’s total revenue that year was over $1 billion.
But it apparently marks a new chapter in the ongoing abortion war, not to mention the battle to defund planned Parenthood.
Komen’s reason, according to The Associated Press (the organization didn’t return NPR’s calls or emails), was a new policy forbidding grants to organizations under official investigation. President Cecile Richards confirmed that in an interview.
Planned Parenthood is the subject of an inquiry launched last fall by House Energy and Commerce Investigative Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.
But members of Congress who back planned Parenthood say that investigation is little more than the same allegations that have long been made — and not substantiated — against the group.
“This is a trumped-up investigation by some Republicans in the Congress who have a vendetta against planned Parenthood,” said Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California.
Planned Parenthood’s Richards says she thinks the Komen Foundation has finally been pushed too far by pressure from anti-abortion groups. “I think what’s really disturbing about seeing these right-wing attacks on groups like the Komen Foundation is we can’t allow bullies to prevent women from getting the health care they need,” she says.
But others say the pressure may have come from within the Komen organization itself. they point to the hiring last year of Karen Handel, a vice president who ran for governor in Georgia last year on a platform that included cutting state funds for planned Parenthood.
Whatever the reason, it has outraged members of Congress like Colorado’s Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat.
“I don’t see two groups at war with each other,” DeGette said. “I see the Komen Foundation declaring war on women’s health. planned Parenthood has done everything they’ve been asked to do. And with their own private money, with 3 percent of their services or less, they do abortions, which the last I heard were still legal in this country.”
Anti-abortion groups, not surprisingly, are praising the Komen Foundation.
“The work of the Komen Foundation has lifesaving potential and should not be intertwined with an industry dealing in death,” said Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life. meanwhile, Steven Aden of the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal firm, said it “applauds Komen for seeing the contradiction between its lifesaving work and its relationship with an abortionist that has ended millions of lives.”
But despite those plaudits, an even bigger question many are asking is, which of these huge and recognizable groups is likely to win this fight?
Deana Rohlinger, an associate professor at Florida State University who studies women’s groups, thinks that while planned Parenthood may lose this funding battle, it’s likely to win the war.
Planned Parenthood is “an organization that has been around for a long time, and this isn’t the first time it’s seen a hit to its bottom line,” she said. “It’s gone without before, and I don’t imagine that this is going to bring it down.”
Komen, on the other hand, she says, has been seen, until now, as more about pink ribbons and T-shirts than politics.
Yet “by taking such a strong move, what they’ve done is made it more about abortion, potentially, than about women’s health,” she says. “And that could be problematic in terms of people that support the Komen Foundation. You’re talking about a generally popular group, and some folks might reconsider participating.”
The major breast cancer research group cut funds to the prominent family planning organization after Planned Parenthood has come under increasing scrutiny from Congress over how it provides abortion services. the Komen Foundation gave few details on the reasons behind the decision, attributing the announcement to “changes in priorities and policies” and the need to “most fully advance [its] mission.”
“It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority. we are working directly with Komen Affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast health screening and services,” the group said in a statement.
The Komen Foundation did not respond to repeated requests for more information about the decision.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, was clearly disappointed.
“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood said funding from the Komen Foundation has largely paid for breast exams at local centers. in the last five years, grants from the group have directly supported 170,000 screenings, comprising about 4% of the total exams performed at Planned Parenthood health centers nationwide, according to the group.
The family planning organization announced a recent “emergency fund” from a different group, the Amy and Lee Fikes’ Foundation, that will go towards making up for lost funds from Komen. the gift totaled $250,000.
Planned Parenthood said Komen began notifying local affiliates recently that their breast cancer initiatives would not be eligible for new grants. in a statement, the group said the foundation’s leadership did not respond to requests to meet with Planned Parenthood officials about the decision.
In September, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce began an investigation of Planned Parenthood over the organization’s “compliance with federal restrictions on funding abortions.”
In a letter sent to Planed Parenthood, the committee asked the group to provide information on how it segregates family planning from abortion services, as well as its policies on reporting cases of sexual abuse, rape and sex trafficking.
The committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns, also asked for all internal audit reports from 1998 to 2010.
Funding for Planned Parenthood came under the spotlight in April, when a GOP push to strip $317 million in federal funding for the group failed in an eleventh hour budget deal to avoid a government shutdown.
Reacting to the news Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington pointed to the House investigation as the cause behind Komen’s decision, saying in a statement she was “extremely disappointed that politics is once again coming between women and their health care needs.”
Democratic Rep. Mike Honda of California also sharply criticized the moved and called on the Komen foundation to reconsider its decision.
“This is just the latest casualty in a misguided and harmful campaign started by House Republicans to demonize the life-saving health services delivered by Planned Parenthood health centers,” Honda said in a statement.
But the decision was applauded by some in the anti-abortion community, which has long called for the dismantling of Planned Parenthood.
Tony Perkins, a major social conservative leader who heads the Family Research Council, quickly praised the Komen Foundation’s decision Tuesday as “good news” for women seeking help with breast cancer, as well as for the “lives of many unborn babies.”
“Susan G. Komen can chose to stop subsidizing the abortion giant, surely Congress can redirect its resources to those helping women, not making a profit off the lives of unborn children,” Perkins said in a statement.
American Medical Association President Peter Carmel, a new Jersey-based pediatric neurosurgeon, and Texas Medical Association President Bruce Malone, an Austin orthopedic surgeon, sat down with the Texas Tribune to talk about the Medicare cuts that physicians face, Texas’ decision to challenge federal health reform in court, and state lawmakers’ efforts to curb abortions and slash funding to planned Parenthood. An edited transcript follows.
TT: For the last decade, the U.S. government has been spending more on Medicare, the federal health insurer for the elderly, than the current funding formula allows — and threatening to dramatically cut doctors’ reimbursement rates to get in check. What’s the latest?
Carmel: On March 1, the physician reimbursement for Medicare goes down 27.4 percent. everybody knows — everybody in Congress, the American public — that a reduction of that magnitude is catastrophic. Every year, year after year, [Congress] gets up to the deadline and then makes some sort of a patch. in 2010, Congress had to pass five separate laws to continue physician payments under Medicare. in 2010, for 41 days, doctors either weren’t paid or they were paid at the wrong rate. there was an enormous disruption of cash flow. Physician practices are small businesses. No small business can tolerate a disruption of cash flow. Starting Jan. 1, Congress knew this deadline was approaching. And they dithered. Finally, quite literally at the last week, the next to last day of the congressional session, they finally came up with brilliant idea. a two-month patch. Every time there’s a patch, it increases not only the cost of the patch, but it increases the cost of ever eliminating this whole thing. there is this enormous debt that scares the hell out of Congress. how can we run our businesses when we’re being asked to make an enormous investment in health information technology, in e-prescribing, in electronic medical records? how can we make any addition to our practice, any expansion of services, if we don’t know whether the first Tuesday in March we’re going to be paid at all?
TT: Could doctors simply stop taking Medicare patients, like many of them have with Medicaid, the joint state-federal insurer of the poor?
Carmel: What we have discovered is that doctors are very reluctant to disrupt their relationship with Medicare patients. but if those Medicare patients are going to be a loss in their practice, they’re not going to take on new Medicare patients. the vast majority of physicians in the United States already cannot participate in Medicaid. in the state of new Jersey, Medicaid pays 25 percent of [what] Medicare [pays]. It’s the lowest in the country. I’m a pediatric neurosurgeon, and when I see a [Medicaid] kid in these tiny little examining rooms, with momma, papa, the kid, three of my residents, me, a nurse practitioner, [the reimbursement] covers the cost of the nurse practitioner. nothing for me, nothing for the office, nothing for billing, nothing for collecting, nothing for the lights. in the state of new Jersey, if a kid has an elective neurosurgical problem and they’re covered by Medicaid, I am the only doctor in a state of 12.75 million people that will see that patient. we are approaching that now in Medicare. Congress believes that doctors won’t be able to leave Medicare. but if you’re losing money on every patient encounter, you can’t make it up in volume. Medicare is the linchpin of health-system reform. if Medicare fails, the whole health-system reform falls to the ground.
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TT: Do you think Congress hasn’t been sympathetic to this plight because traditionally, doctors have done so well financially?
Malone: I’m an orthopedist practicing in Austin. I’m not in the 1 percent. That would be a handful of specialists. when doctors start talking about money, we lose. but I can tell you right now, with this situation, I can’t keep my doors open. I don’t have to worry about what my income is going to be, because I can’t do it.
Carmel: Doctors are no longer rich. we look every year at the entering medical school class to see if the doom and gloom of the future is going to affect the numbers.
TT: did Texas make the right decision when it joined the lawsuit against federal health reform and, in particular, the individual mandate requiring people to carry health insurance?
Carmel: we don’t know. it has broken down into three big separate questions. the first question is, is the individual mandate constitutional? the second is, if you eliminate the mandate, does that vitiate the entire act? Almost all of the legal people I’ve ever talked to say the answer to the second is no. And third, will [the Supreme Court] let the rest of the act stand even if they determine that the mandate is not constitutional? everybody is looking at Justice [Anthony] Kennedy. He’s the swing vote. People have gone through his past decisions with a microscope. They say he has always come down on the side of responsibility of the individual to take care of the public good, that he would support the mandate. but no one knows.
Malone: there are lots of things to criticize in Texas politically, but the fact is, we’re one of 26 states [that] did join the suit. without [an individual] mandate, without something that makes people buy policies in groups, the commercial market is in jeopardy. you can’t run the commercial market if people can call [to buy health insurance] when they get sick. the state of Texas, the TMA, does not endorse the mandate. but you’ve got to have some way to guarantee the population will have an insurance market.
TT: have you been watching the Republican political debates, and if so, what do you think of the rhetoric around “Obamacare?” It’s reviled by a lot of people.
Carmel: By a group of political people. in the words of the Bible, we sit and we reverently say, “Forgive them father. They know not what they do.”
Malone: but you can’t tell Texans that. because frankly, I’m sure the majority of Texans at this point politically would not support it.
TT: Where do you come down on Texas’ abortion sonogram law, which requires a sonogram at least 24 hours ahead of an abortion and mandates that a doctor play the fetal heartbeat aloud and show the woman the image of the fetus?
Carmel: it is a needless, dangerous interference with the practice of medicine by politicians. And as physicians, we have to oppose all interference that we possibly can by politicians in the practice of medicine. there are all sorts of rules all over the country, with state legislatures trying to dictate what doctors do. in the state of Florida, it is illegal for a doctor to ask the family of a child whether there are guns in the home. you can ask about storage of chemicals, about fire alarms, fire escapes, open windows, how the windows are sealed. You’re allowed to ask all those questions, but you cannot ask whether there are firearms in the home. Firearms are a major cause of childhood mortality and injury. It’s so extreme as to be ludicrous. the important principle is, the government shouldn’t interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. the government shouldn’t practice medicine.
TT: And what about Texas lawmakers’ efforts to slash spending on family planning? Now they’re threatening not to participate in the Medicaid Women’s Health Program if they can’t exclude planned Parenthood.
Malone: That would be a really stupid thing to do. planned Parenthood does not do abortions in the state of Texas with state funds. So this is a very stupid political thing. It’s not like the state of Texas has another safety net for these women for medical care. the Texas Medical Association doesn’t want to get into the issue of whether a patient wants an elective abortion. That’s not what we’re dealing with. We’re talking about well woman services, pap smears and breast exams, things that make public health sense. And we don’t want to see those women who are vulnerable denied essential medical services because someone wants to debate an ethics issue. That’s their right to debate that. That’s fine, but these are essential medical services.
Carmel: What it sets up is two classes of patients. if you’ve got rocks, you’ve got the ability, you’ve got access to contraception, to women’s health, to all of these things. if you’re poor, we’re going to deny you access to that kind of health. That’s first of all not tolerable for medicine, and it can’t be tolerable for Americans. No American would say, “Yes, the poor should get inferior treatment.”
TT: does the threat of Medicare cuts — plus budget cuts to medical residency training at the state level — compound the country’s physician shortage?
Malone: We’re concerned that it doesn’t do any good to give a patient a health insurance card if there are no doctors who can afford to see them. So that’s the issue we have in Texas, and we’re going to have to work hard to try to make sure they have access to primary care. We’re afraid that the next Legislature is going to be just as bad. I think the medical schools took out all the fat trying to respond to the cuts. it may be even harder next time.
Carmel: the number of doctors has grown so much more slowly than the growth of the population that the American Association of Medical Colleges has data to show that in 2020, we will be short 124,000 physicians. And that’s of a physician population of 900,000. So it’s a huge shortage. there are people in Washington who say, “Okay. if we’re going to get rid of Medicare cuts and payments to doctors, something else in the medical system has to suffer,” and the two major targets are medical education and medical research. There’s no way in the world your readers would accept that if they knew what was happening.