By Linda Long, Action VP
We have heard a lot about the war on women all over the country but my goal in this blog is to scare the crap out of you and get you to pay attention to how the war on women is being waged right here in California.
Over the last two years, Governor Brown has been making it abundantly clear that he wants to use the Shock and Awe of a massive budget shortfall to distract women by making unbelievably devastating cuts to social welfare programs, schools and universities. Those distractions have been necessary so that he can use his office to fundamentally restructure state government which is exactly what he’s been doing. He is doing it without input from those most affected, especially women. And he is doing it right under the nose of our legislators.
He is not alone. He is being helped by Catholic hospitals and Kaiser, and their company union SEIU Health Workers, Anthem Blue Cross and the California Endowment.
Governor Brown has been using budget trailer bills to ram his agenda through quickly and without consulting women. In case you don’t know – trailer bills typically have little oversight. That’s exactly why he’s using them.
Some of you may ask why. Why would he do this? He gave us the reason when he proposed the elimination of the Commission on the Status of Women last year. In that proposal, Governor Brown said that he didn’t believe gender equity was one of the core functions of government.
He’s now set his sights on healthcare, proposing to remove the Office of Women’s Health and have it become part of an Office of Health Equity.
Every task force, every department is tasked with ensuring they create access to health and they eliminate disparities in health. Obviously, that’s a good thing - as long as women are included. The problem is, if you don’t believe that gender equity is a core function of government, you don’t include women. And that’s what has happened.
California NOW and a diverse coalition of health and equality advocates were working with the legislature to ensure that women, especially women of color, were represented both in the Office of Health Equity which is where the work of the Office of Women’s Health will be placed and the Health in All Policies Task Force.
And we were making progress. Through intensive lobbying and a lot of late nights, we were able to craft the language which changed the Office of Health Equity into one where women could not be eliminated….where the Health in All Policies Task Force couldn’t ignore us.
Perhaps we were making too much progress because last week Governor Brown announced a new task force. The “Let’s Get California Healthy Task Force.” Its first meeting is set for June 15th.
The stake holders the Governor thinks should be in charge of a ten year strategic plan from that task force are (wait for it) Catholic hospitals and Kaiser, their company union SEIU Health Workers, Anthem Blue Cross and the California Endowment.
Did you get that?
The stakeholders in charge of creating a ten year strategic plan under which all of the Health and Human Services will be mandated are Catholic Hospital West, now referred to as Dignity Healthcare (although I refuse to call it that), Mercy Hospital, and Kaiser, their company union SEIU Health Workers, Anthem Blue Cross and the California Endowment.
The foxes will officially be in charge of the hen house. These self-interested corporations will be in charge of the implementation of goals and objectives to close the gaps in access to health care.
So after women and men of color were successful in altering the Office of Health Equity Trailer Bill that the Governor was trying to ram through the Legislature – the California Hospital Association and their unions and the Governor quickly acted to nullify that work.
When government does not believe that women’s equality and empowerment are core functions of government, a consistent pattern in the creation, implementation and maintenance of policies and programs emerges….women simply are not included.
We will not allow this governor to hand over our health care to Catholic Hospitals and those who collude with them to offer substandard care to women.
So my call to you today is this….Get off your chairs and vote. Get us the two-thirds majority in the Legislature. Come to Sacramento and put your body in the chair in the hearing rooms where they vote on these bills that affect the almost 19 million women in our state. Force the legislators to see you and hear from you.
Together, we must also advocate for single payer health care. It is an individual’s right to be able to access health care and we must get corporations and employers out of the picture for everyone to be able to exercise that right.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, we need to let women know what’s at stake in this election and what the Governor is doing in Sacramento. One of the ways we can do that is through electronic town halls which have been proven to be effective in reaching large audiences. However, those obviously cost us money so we need help securing the funds necessary to reach the millions of women in California who are affected by what’s happening.
California NOW is determined to continue speaking out on this issue and educating voters throughout the state. But we cannot do it alone. If you are with us, I’m asking you to contact every woman – and man – you know and tell them what is going on and insist they tell everyone they know. And insist that they vote! And if you want to help us reach millions of women with the townhalls, please click here to make an online donation.