Why Women’s Health Care Is a priority
When people in Burlington, Iowa to talk about women’s health, they often talk about their city’s reputation as a progressive, feminist city. It is true that Burlington has made some significant gains on the issue of women’s health, especially in recent years. The city has become more accepting of women’s reproductive choices, including liberalization of policies regarding abortions and similar issues. But Burlington isn’t an easy escape from the rest of the country’s attitudes and choices regarding women’s health.
The most telling indicator of a progressive or feminist city’s attitude toward women’s health may be the amount of revenue dedicated to community organizations that promote women’s health. In terms of dollars allocated to local organizations, Burlington is well behind the national average when it comes to political giving. Only Oregon and Vermont provide higher percentage allocations to community organizations dedicated to women’s health. (California is the only state that spends more per capita on such organizations than does Burlington.) The lack of local government funding for organizations that help women could be seen as a hindrance to these efforts. But this may not be the whole story.
While many cities and states cut funding for these organizations as a way to balance their budgets, some of those same states have actually increased funding for women’s health issues. And a recently published study linked the two. Researchers found that hospitals in rural areas were more likely to offer a patient admission for a women’s health issue, but that these hospitals faced fewer problems from fraud than hospitals that served urban populations. Other research has shown that the distance from a hospital’s office to a provider’s home might account for why the distance is more important to women than to men.
Women living in smaller cities and towns suffer a variety of health problems at higher rates than women in larger cities and towns. These women may have fewer resources. They may be in the crossroads between economic status and health care needs. Or they may not be aware that resources exist.
The answer may lie in a program called Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). A bill backed by Iowa Sen. Tom Hagan, a Democrat, would provide funds for a women’s health clinic in Burlington. The bill would also provide funding for other health issues related to women’s health. The bill is currently in committee and has not yet cleared the House or Senate. If it does become a law, it would most likely become part of the women’s health initiative.
The importance of such clinics can hardly be overstated. Over 1 million women in the United States live in cities with a low population of women. Many do not have the health insurance that they need or want. There are other women who have no medical insurance because of cost. There are some who would love to have insurance but cannot afford it. And there are many women in these poor communities who would love to have access to quality women’s health care but cannot afford it.
One good way to help these women is by setting up one or more of these clinics. Setting up one is not as complicated as you might think. It would simply mean finding a willing board member to serve as a co-chair of the new women’s health organization. In other words, it would be up to the volunteer to do all the networking, promote the idea of setting up the new organization, get the word out that this new organization needs volunteers, and set up a simple waiting room where people can come and see what is being offered. There are some clinics in small towns where it would be easy to do all of this.
Other clinics could be set up in large cities such as Des Moines, Iowa City, and Burlington. These larger cities contain a greater number of women and their children who need medical attention. In addition, these cities have more women who have families. If possible, these women’s organizations should coordinate with the local Women’s Health Association. This would provide much greater exposure and a much bigger reach for the new women’s care group.