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Opinion: It’s Urgent. It’s Time. Congress Has To Pass Health Care Reform Now


by Elisa Maser

Last week, at the Nevada Interactive Media Summit in Reno, Erin Kotecki Vest, Political Director and Producer of Special Projects for BlogHer, encouraged women to get online, open their hearts and share their truths.  Yes, she explained, it’s fine to mix family and work on your blog and your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

It’s the modern day equivalent of “the personal is political.”  Erin’s blog post “So a Funny Thing Happened While I Was Watching the Health Care Summit” is a perfect example.  A call from the school nurse sent her racing to school, and then she had to rush her son to the hospital.

If you’re a parent, and you’ve gotten that call – you know exactly how frantic those moments are.  Now imagine, how that call would feel if you didn’t have health insurance.

Erin noted in her blog:

Not an hour or two before, I was actually enjoying and cheering and jeering the political theater in Washington.  …the talking and talking and talking that from one room in D.C. seemed entirely out of place in this California ER.

At least for me, sitting in that ER, health care in America — and the battle over reform — was very clear. There were no questions. Criminals and children were being treated, and bills would come due. And there I was, on the edge of my son’s bed, the only one with insurance. THE ONLY ONE.

That’s the bottom line.  The statistics in Nevada are staggering, and you’ve seen them all before.  No need to repeat them here.  As bad as it is for men, it’s worse for women – who are more often in jobs without benefits.  Who pay more for the health insurance the do get.  Who pay more out of pocket for the medicines and services insurance doesn’t cover.

Planned Parenthood offers basic health care to low-middle income residents, seeing more than 50,000 medical clients every year at our five Nevada health centers.  And in this economy, one in four women skip even the most basic health care, and nearly half are planning smaller families.

Planned Parenthoods offers medical services for women, men and teens, including:  breast and cervical cancer screening, HPV vaccines for girls and boys, annual exams, birth control (including emergency contraception), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, testing for HIV, and gynecological care.

As a trusted provider of health care to Nevada women and families, Planned Parenthood is committed to fixing our broken health care system and guaranteeing quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

How many more families have to face down panic at the thought of going to the doctor or emergency room?

Erin’s son was fine … by the way.

But honestly, thinking about health care shouldn’t give you a heart attack.  It’s time for Congress to focus on what matters most:  extending health care coverage to the millions of Americans who are cut out of our current system.  Nevada needs health care reform, and we need it now.


Elisa Maser is the President & CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, the statewide lobbying and election arm of Planned Parenthood in Nevada.

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