Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who's Missing From The Table?

Women, that's who. My fellow No Quarter writer, Eastan, queried after the Health Care Summit, "Where were the women?"

It's an excellent question, Eastan. Here is a look at the list of invitees to Obama's "Bipartisan" Healthcare Summit:
Senator Harry Reid, D-NV, Majority Leader
Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, Republican Leader
Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, Majority Whip
Senator Jon Kyl, R-AZ, Republican Whip
Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, Chairman of the Finance Committee
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee
Senator Tom Harkin, D-IA, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Mike Enzi, R-WY, Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Chris Dodd, D-CT, Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY
Senator Patty Murray, D-WA
Senator Kent Conrad, D-ND
Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WV
Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR
Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN
Senator John Barrasso, R-WY
Senator Tom Coburn, R-OK
Senator John McCain, R-AZ
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA
Representative Steny Hoyer, D-MD, Majority Leader
Representative John Boehner, R-OH, Republican Leader
Representative James Clyburn, D-SC, Majority Whip
Representative Eric Cantor, R-VA, Republican Whip
Representative Charles Rangel, D-NY, Chairman of the Ways and Committee
Representative Dave Camp, R-MI, Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee
Representative Henry Waxman, D-CA, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative Joe Barton, R-TX, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative George Miller, D-CA, Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee
Representative John Kline, R-MN, Ranking Member of the Education and Labor Committee
Representative John Dingell, D-MI, Chair Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee
Representative Xavier Becerra, D-CA
Representative Louise Slaughter, D-NY
Representative Robert Andrews, D-NJ
Representative Jim Cooper, D-TN
Representative Paul Ryan, R-WI
Representative Marsha Blackburn, R-TN
Representative Charles Boustany, R-LA
Representative Peter Roskam, R-IL
** Note: Senator McConnell and Leader Boehner will designate one additional Republican member to attend.**

How many elected women do you count in there? I counted four, a rather paltry number, a slim representation for over HALF the population of the United States (and the world, for that matter).

Why does this matter? Because women have "Unique Health Needs," that's why:

* 80% of the population with osteoporosis are women.
* 75% of people with lupus are women.
* Twice as many women as men have arthritis.
* Hypothyroidism is ten times more prevalent in women than in men.
* Fibromyalgia (FM) is nine times more prevalent in women than in men.
* Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is three times more common in women than in men.
* Migraine headaches affect women three times more than men.
* Women experience more severe and more pain overall than men.
* Interstitial cystitis is almost exclusively found in women.
* Multiple sclerosis occurs more in women than in men.
* Endocrine imbalance affects women more than men.

Women with auto-immune conditions often have food and/or environmental sensitivities, heavy metal toxicity, dysbiosis and/or leaky gut syndrome. Depending on the genetics, lifestyle, and environmental affects, each person’s unique biochemistry will determine which tests are of highest priority.

For example, osteoporosis is of major concern for aging women. Bone mineral density testing is necessary to determine bone health. Solomon and colleagues reported that bone mineral density testing (BMD) is under-utilized by a majority of health care professionals. BMD is an important test for assessment of bone density. Urinary bone resorption assessment is a useful test to monitor whether treatment is preventing further bone loss.

Thyroid dysfunction was reported to be three times as high in women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than in women with non-inflammatory rheumatic diseases such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Some RA patients have food and environmental sensitivities, and others have dysbiosis. RA has especially been linked with a genetic predisposition and Proteus bacteria as a trigger for the illness.

Bairey–Merz reports that about 50% of women but 17% of men who have diagnostic cardiac catheterization have normal coronary arteries. So, 50% of the time chest pain in women is due to some other cause(s). Assessment of mineral status, and of other cardio risk factors such as homocysteine, fibrinogen, and C–reactive protein can be used to detect other contributors to chest pain. These tests and others are included in a comprehensive cardiovascular assessment. Magnesium deficiency often mimics angina and arrhythmia. Serum minerals testing would be of benefit.

Higher levels of estradiol also are associated with increased risk of chest pain, so a hormone panel would be indicated as well.

Although CFS and FM are distinct, they have many common characteristics in symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Several studies have reported a high incidence of food sensitivities, leaky gut syndrome, and thyroid autoimmunity in fibromyalgia and CFS.

That's why it matters that there were so few women present in these discussions. As if they really mattered anyway since Big Pharma already has its deal in place, along with some other sweetheart deals for a few states, etc. But still - Obama could have made more of an effort. You know, with him being such a big feminist and all, right, "Ms. Magazine"?? Yeah, right.

This bill is fraught with so many problems, major problems. We know that. We've discussed that for months. But having so few women at the table is a pretty big problem, too. With so many health issues particular to women, and affecting women more than men, it should have been an IMPERATIVE that more women were involved in this process, not fewer. That's reason enough to go back to the drawing board, don't you think? I do.

And something else I think - had there been a President Hillary Clinton, as there should have been, the voices of women would have been well represented, with a seat at the table. With Obama? Not so much...

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