Sunday, December 20, 2009

SB400 Hearing Follow Up

Hearing Follow Up:
Observations of Dr. Walter Tsou, former Philadelphia Health Commissioner, and Chuck Pennacchio, Executive Director of Healthcare for All Pennsylvania, on yesterday's (12.16.09) Pennsylvania Senate Banking and Insurance Committee hearing on SB 400.

Copies of the testimony of all participants, as well as audio and video of the hearing, will soon be available at

Chuck Pennacchio:

In addition to Walter's more detailed observations and insights below, I'd like to make a few key points intended to translate events and chart a path forward for passage of SB 400/HB 1660 at the earliest possible moment.

First, it was obvious that our SB 400 testifiers -- including Senator Jim Ferlo's tone-setting statement at the top -- were far better prepared, passionate, and on-point than our opponents. But no need to take our word for it. The glowing wrap-up comments of Chairman White, his decision to extend the hearing time an additional 50 minutes, his desire to continue the hearings and research and bill-writing process, as well as his personal congratulatory handshake while saying, "your panel did a terrific job," give us real hope that we are within shouting distance of accomplishing what all of us need -- a healthcare system that, in moral and economic terms, puts patient care and dignity first and foremost.

I was also pleased with the preparedness, comments, and questions of Senator Jake Corman, part of the GOP leadership team, Chair of Senate Appropriations, and member of Banking and Insurance. His grasp of issues, embrace of our "new ideas," openness to our fair-share health and wellness tax, and query of SB 400 opponents (exposing their ignorance of Single Payer) are all good signs.

This leads me to a broader discussion of the significance of what happened yesterday...

I know, I know, you say, we've been here before. Right? Politicians raising our hopes and then letting us down. Actually, so far and past and present experiences inform me, I perceive elements remarkably different and, I believe, promising.

For starters, it's time to imagine what is unimaginable to many (or most?) citizen activists. And yet, the "unimaginable" is a course Healthcare for All Pennsylvania has been on since 2006 -- a course that subsequent events have borne out.

Based on a repeatedly validated assumption that, because of the destructive effects of campaign contributions from health insurance, pharmaceutical, and allied interests to politicians in both major parties, as well as a political culture of "incrementalism," we must be fiercely non-partisan, evidence-based, organizationally sound, forthright and flexible, and mindful of our federalist constitution and political history.

In other words, we have long held that the winning coalition around the proven Single Payer Solution will be comprised of "conscience Republicans" and "conscience Democrats," beginning with one of our "modeling" fifty states. And, in the case of Pennsylvania, not only do we have political advantages that others do not, but we have what appears to be a thoughtful and courageous GOP leadership on the joined issues of healthcare delivery, healthcare economics, and healthcare financing.

Dr. Walter Tsou:

"My overall impression was this was an enormously successful and impressive showing for Pennsylvania state single payer. Yes, I may be biased, but our four panelists did a superb job in explaining the Family and Business Health Security Act. To explain why I say this, consider the concluding remarks of Senator Don White, Republican Chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. First, Senator White offered that "there were those who said I should not have this hearing" -- a clear rebuke of the fearful during this time of healthcare and economic crisis. Second, whereas in his opening comments he downplayed expectations for the hearing as a "fact-finding session only," by the end, his praise of the Single Payer presenters was so "positive," he declared that this opening act was just the beginning of a series of hearings on this most important topic.

The hearing began with Senator White, a former insurance broker, welcoming everyone and inviting Senator Jim Ferlo, the lead sponsor of SB 400, to present some opening thoughts. Ferlo explained the need to look at different approaches rather than be tied to the usual failed insurance model. Among other attributes, he said that the state Single Payer plan would free employers from the onerous burden of skyrocketing health insurance costs by, instead, providing healthcare for everyone at far less cost.

Chuck Pennacchio, Executive Director of Healthcare for all PA spoke next and further explained the particulars of the state-level, Single Payer approach, and how it represents values we can all embrace: freedom, choice, fiscal conservatism, personal responsibility, modeling solutions, constitutional federalism, fair-share taxation, efficiency, transparency, accountability, jobs creation, bureaucratic streamlining, investment and reinvestment, coordinated and comprehensive care, reduced rationing, restored patient-provider relationship, healthy outcomes, tort remedy, end bankruptcy fears, healthcare education, "medical home" data base, and more.

Patricia Eakin, RN from Philadelphia explained that she was a nurse in one of the busiest ERs in Pennsylvania at Temple and that she sees the problems of the lack of insurance on a daily basis. She gave some examples of the problems faced by people who lack insurance. She noted how her hospital was losing money because they had to spend limited resources on billing personnel, and had to absorb, and/or pass along, financial losses on people without insurance or on Medicaid.

Dwight Michaels, MD, a Republican, and family practice doctor from Gettysburg, spoke about how his experience with private insurance bureaucrats had driven him to support the Single Payer Solution. He said it is increasingly difficult to practice medicine because his five-person practice struggles daily with 20 different insurance plans, all with different rules. This bureaucratic nightmare makes it impossible to spend quality time with his patients because he is forced to justify more and more of his procedures with the insurance carriers. Dr. Michaels' testimony was a vivid description of the life of a family doctor in a dysfunctional system.

David Steil, a former Republican state legislator and head of a small manufacturing business was another inspired choice. Not only did he know all of the Senators but, as a creative-thinking lawmaker, he broke the stereotype that all Single Payer supporters are lefties. Mr. Steil spoke about how he tries to run a business, but the cost and hassle of health insurance has made his company more vulnerable in an international market where his non-American competitors have far cheaper health costs.

I think this panel worked extremely well. Not only were they excellent speakers, but they spoke from real world experiences, not as paid lobbyists. And two were Republicans which was an added bonus. The committee had many questions, but none were nasty and all seemed genuinely interested in the real world experiences of the panelists. And the room was packed with 90% supporters of SB 400. I don't think this was lost on the committee.

The opposing panel were all known lobbyists for their respective interest groups. They gave the usual refrain of condemning single payer.

NFIB speaker - he simply declared that small businesses don't want Single Payer, but admitted that healthcare costs are the number one concern of businesses. They want the same outcomes that only Single Payer provides. But since that involves "government bureaucracy," it cannot possibly work.

PA Medical Society - wants tort reform but not Single Payer because it would be too powerful in controlling reimbursements (and costs).

Capitol Blue Cross - gave a confusing talk about the problems with the Washington federal bill and then simply concluded that SB 400 is just like the Washington bill and should be rejected. Of course, nothing in the federal bill even resembles Single Payer, which is why it is so unpopular.

Hospital Association of PA - opposes any government controls generically. Gave a knee-jerk opposition to Single Payer.

Insurance Federation of PA - same as the hospitals. They oppose Single Payer as "monopolistic" -- working from the assumption that the 35-cents-on-the-healthcare-dollar insurance "middle man" is indispensable, and that a little more regulation and industry "innovation" will solve cost issues.

There was not much time for questions but, frankly, they were special interest lobbyists and not a very interesting opposing panel. If this was a debate, the clear winners were the Single Payer SB 400 panel who did a great service in advancing state-level Single Payer today.

Phila NOW Supports SB400, PA's Single Payer Bill

Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
Senator Don White, Chairman
281 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3041
December 15, 2009

Dear Senators of the Banking and Insurance Committee,
The Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) asks for your support in passing SB400, the Family and Business Health Security Act, out of Committee to a full vote in the Senate. SB400 is vital to every working family in Pennsylvania, and to business owners small and large. For Pennsylvania women, this bill offers relief for long-standing systemic problems, problems that cost lives.

You will be asked today to consider the health and welfare of the citizenry versus the welfare of our current health care and insurance industry, which is a serious, difficult task, and your decision about this bill will be a tough decision. But just the fact that we, in this country, have evolved a system of care where ordinary citizens are pitted by the millions against an industry should be a signal that all is not right.

You are certainly familiar with the facts: Health care costs have skyrocketed, many times wages, crippling individuals and families and hampering business. And yet between 2000 and 2005, an estimated 450,000 fewer Pennsylvanians received health care through employment. In this same period, Pennsylvania health insurers profits soared, from $482 million in 2000 to $810 million in 2005, despite spending 40% less on actual health care.

It is also well known that women are underserved in the current system of health care delivery. Women receive less pay for the work they do than men to begin with, making insurance harder to buy. Women more often work part time jobs or minimum wage jobs that don't offer health care. They are more likely to own or work for the smallest businesses. In Pennsylvania, it's possible that if a woman does receive health benefits through her employer, it doesn't include maternity care, because this is not mandatory. And if an uninsured or underinsured woman becomes pregnant, she will have difficulty finding affordable insurance, since pregnancy in Pennsylvania can be considered a pre-existing condition.

Maternity accounts for 25% of all hospitalizations, and yet hospitals in Southeast Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the state have cut their maternity departments, overburdening nearby facilities. They rationalize their cuts by pointing to their bottom line and doing what's necessary to preserve it. That's fine if your business is manufacturing widgets. But if your business is providing health care, cutting a vital service to the community severely undermines the security of that community. These are just a few of the unfair market practices that leave the women of Pennsylvania, most often themselves caregivers to their families, more vulnerable to poor health outcomes than men.

Our current system is not a model of care at all, it's a model to protect profits. More and more public dollars are being asked to go to support this profit model. And it's a model that shoots itself in the foot. By making primary care so difficult for families to attain, even minor medical events become emergencies because people know they won't be denied care in a hospital emergency room. The General Assembly hears each year about the costs to hospitals of this behavior.  All studies project these issues to get worse, not improve, unless intelligent regulatory course correction is implemented.

Certainly the health care industry as currently configured and entrenched underpins a large section of our economy and it's important to act with precision. SB400 is a precise tool. There will be disruption; it is provided for in this bill. But health care services, unlike widgets, are a necessity. It will not take long for the health care sector to rebound. There will still be hospitals, there will still be doctors. But there will also be a new freedom within which individuals and businesses can operate and grow that can only benefit the Commonwealth.

If you but acknowledge the value to our citizens and our economy of creating this security in the lives of regular folk, if you but acknowledge that this principle is more important than protecting the profits of an industry simply because they exist, then all the questions about how you translate this conviction into reality will begin to be answered.

Our state's debate takes place concurrently with the national debate. It is all too easy to delay doing what needs to be done here in order to wait and see what happens elsewhere. But delay continues to cost lives. What is right for Pennsylvania is SB400. The case for the Family and Business Health Security Act has never been more clear or more strong. All it needs is the courage from our Senate to do what is right.

Thank you,

Caryn Hunt
President, Philadelphia NOW

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Philadelphia NOW has new officers! Statement from outgoing President and Profiles of New Officers:

From outgoing President Karen Bojar:

I have very much enjoyed being President of Philadelphia NOW for the past eight years, but it’s time for a change, both for me personally and for the organization. We have an impressive team of officers, political action committee board members, and chapter activists who have done a great deal to advance feminist issues and raise the profile of Philadelphia NOW.

Six years go we started a political action committee to support our efforts to elect feminist candidates. Five years ago we set up the Philadelphia NOW Education Fund, a separately incorporated non-profit which supports our educational work. Our major effort in this area was the very successful, well attended 2006 Women of Color Conference chaired by Cindy Bass.

Our greatest challenge is attracting younger members who will remain committed to the organization. Many of the older progressive organizations are experiencing similar difficulties recruiting a younger generation of leaders who are committed to building the organization and staying involved through good times and bad.

It may be that a younger generation will build different organizations. However, a multi-issue, multi-strategy feminist organization that is active on the local, state, and national level is still very much needed.

Although the feminist movement has been extraordinarily successful, this success has not been shared equally. Women with economic privileges and access to elite educational institutions have made enormous strides in the professions, business, political and civic life. Of course there is still a glass ceiling in American life. However, many affluent white men have been willing to make room for their daughters--the same men who have fought the economic policies which would provide opportunities and a robust safety net for the majority of women in our society.

At this stage in its history, NOW must focus on expanding opportunities for the women who have not been the primary beneficiaries of the feminist movement—working class and low-income women, who are disproportionately women of color.

Lauren Townsend, who is running for chapter president is uniquely qualified to take on these challenges. She is committed to continuing and strengthening the partnership we have built with the Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). Lauren has often referred to herself as a member of the bridge generation, women in their 40’s who can relate to older feminists as well as to a younger generation of women in their teens, 20’s, and 30’s.

We are incredibly fortunate to have a candidate like Lauren, who has extensive experience as an activist, a deep understanding of feminist issues, and who is very well-known and highly regard by local progressive community.

Lauren understands that if our organization is to continue to exist it must do more to address issues of concern to young women, women of color and low-income and working class women. She has recruited a strong team of NOW veterans and active members who are new to NOW leadership. Under their leadership, I am very optimistic about the future of Philadelphia NOW

Phila NOW Candidates
Lauren Townsend – President
Dee Johnson – Executive Vice President
Kathy Black – VP for Finance
Caryn Hunt – VP for Membership
Louise Francis – Treasurer
Terri Falbo – Secretary & Newsletter Producer
Francesca Alvarado – Representative to the State Board
Doris Pridgen – Representative to the State Board
Rosa Woods – Alternate Representative to the State Board

Lauren Townsend – President
Lauren Townsend has been doing progressive organizing and advocacy since she moved to Philadelphia in 1984. For the last three years, Lauren has worked in partnership with Lou Freimiller doing general political consulting. Townsend Freimiller Associates has been at the helm of a number of winning campaigns. Some of these were with candidates endorsed by by Philadelphia NOW PAC including: Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez; Superior Court Judge, Christine Donohue, State Representative Vanessa Brown and Democrat, Dawn Segal who was elected judge of Philadelphia's Municipal Court. Currently, Lauren and Lou are running Montgomery County Commissioner and former congressman, Joe Hoeffel's campaign for governor of Pennsylvania.

Before beginning her consulting business, Lauren was the Executive Director of Citizens for Consumer Justice (CCJ) for almost 10 years. CCJ was responsible for convening Pennsylvanians for a Fair and Independent Court that opposed the Alito nomination to the Supreme Court; coordinating the successful Pennsylvania arm of Americans United to Protect Social Security and the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities; registering over 25,000 new African American and Latino voters 2004; executing highly-publicized bus trips to Canada with seniors who couldn’t afford their prescription drugs; successfully fighting tort reform legislation through the pro-active Pennsylvania Safety and Justice Act; and convening the Patients Not Profits Coalition during the demise of the Allegheny Health System.

Lauren has also worked with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Pennsylvania Citizen Action, The Philadelphia Singers, The Clay Studio, New Jersey Citizen Action, Farm Workers Support Committee, Kensington Joint Action Council, Clara Bell Duvall Education Fund, NARAL-PA, Lutheran Settlement House Women’s Program and The League of Conservation Voters.

Lauren lives in West Philadelphia with her son, Alex , who is a junior at Central High School.

" I am honored to be asked to run for president of Philadelphia NOW," said Lauren Townsend. " If the membership of Philadelphia elects me and this incredible slate of women to the board, my top priorities will be, fundraising, aggressive recruitment of diverse young feminists, public and media relations about the campaigns on which we have been, and will be, working and solidifying our growing clout in elections"

Dee Johnson – Executive Vice President
Dee Johnson is currently communications manager/managing editor for The Pennsylvania Prison Society ― the oldest prison reform organization in the world striving to advance a humane, just and constructive correctional system. A staunch advocate for prisoners and their families, she has been an integral part of a recent effort to establish legislation that bans the practice of shackling pregnant prisoners in Pennsylvania.
A native New Yorker, Dee Johnson worked with members of the New York State Legislature for nearly two decades on Albany’s Capitol Hill before relocating to Philadelphia a few years ago. She served several members, liaising with elected officials, the press, and representatives of government and community organizations to ensure that legislative goals and objectives were met. She also managed legislative affairs, researching, developing and introducing bills that would eventually become state law and help improve the quality of life of New York residents.
“I look forward to working with Lauren Townsend and Philadelphia NOW board members, taking action to change those practices that serve as barriers to a woman’s full participation in American society,” said Johnson.

Kathy Black – VP for Finance
Kathy Black is running for her fourth term as VP for Finance of our Philadelphia Chapter. Her main duties are to organize the annual fundraiser with the President, and serve on the Executive Board. Kathy works as the Health and Safety Director for AFSCME District Council 47, representing professional and technical city employees. She is the President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the women's movement within the labor movement, which promotes many of the same issues as NOW. Kathy is also a national Co-Convenor of US Labor Against the War, the anti-war movement within the labor movement, founded in 2003. She serves on several other community boards and has been active in many political campaigns.

Caryn Hunt – VP for Membership
Caryn Hunt is a Philadelphia writer and activist. She's been involved since 2006 with planning along the Delaware River- from helping organize Neighbors Allied for the Best Riverfront (NABR) to advocate for sensible riverfront development, to covering planning issues before there was a, to serving on the board of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group, whose mission is to implement the citizen-driven Civic Vision for the Delaware River. She's written extensively about environmental and other issues at

Caryn is a proud and active member in Philadelphia NOW. She was a NOW Citizen Activist Honoree in 2009 for her work to keep maternity units open in the city. She represents NOW on Maternity Care Coalition's Policy Committee, and continues to push for building greater access to maternity care in Philadelphia. Caryn currently works as Political Liaison for the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. She is passionate about reaching out to citizens to help empower them in the political process, and about clarifying how complex issues like health care reform effect women and families.

Louise Francis – Treasurer
Louise Francis is the current Treasurer of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She has been the Chapter’s Treasurer since 1991. She has been involved in all aspects of the Chapter’s activities, including pro-choice marches in Washington DC, demonstrations against local employers that discriminate against workers, city-wide organized clinic defense when Operation Rescue staged an “operation” against Philadelphia’s abortion providers and helping to organize the 2009 International Women’s Day event. She is also a member of the Philadelphia NOW Political Action Committee and regularly interviews candidates seeking the NOW endorsement. On many elections she is an election worker at her local polling place.
Ms Francis is an avid gardener and is a member of the Waverly Gardens community garden in the Washington Square West section of Philadelphia.
Ms Francis is the Consulting Principal and founder of Francis Analytics and Actuarial Data Mining, Inc. where she leads predictive modeling, simulation and related actuarial projects and engagements. Ms. Francis has introduced insurance professionals to advanced modeling methods, including simulation, predictive modeling and text mining, both as a speaker at conferences and as an author of papers and articles. Six of her papers were awarded prizes by the Casualty Actuarial Society.
Ms. Francis was appointed by the Casualty Actuarial Society's board of directors to a three year term as Vice President of Research and Development. In this capacity, she is responsible for helping the CAS achieve its vision of being recognized internationally as a leader in sponsoring and conducting property and casualty insurance research. For a complete description of the company and listing of Ms. Francis’ awards, papers and presentations, please see

Terri Falbo – Secretary & Newsletter Producer
Terri Falbo has been involved in many movements for social justice since coming to Philadelphia in 1974. After studying at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University, she became a union steamfitter for over 17 years. While working as a steamfitter, Terri was active in Tradeswomen of Philadelphia/Women in Non-traditional work (TOP/WIN) working as an instructor in the pre-apprenticeship program. She also served on the Philadelphia AFL-CIO Women's Committee. She has been on the board of the Philadelphia Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) for over 12 years.
Following her passion for social justice, Terri spent eight years as a union organizer for healthcare workers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kansas City. She helped nurses to organize for professional respect and conditions for themselves, as well as for more influence to enable them to provide better patient care.

In 2004, Terri was selected by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Anniston (Alabama) Star to write a series of 16 essays as a representative of a "Blue State" on various topics discussed during the Presidential election. In 2005, she received CLUW's Working Woman Award during Working Women's Awareness Week, as well as citations from State Representatives, partly because of the essay series.
Since 2006, Terri has been working as a Real Estate agent throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. She has been the secretary & newsletter producer for Philadelphia NOW since 2008.

Francesca Alvarado – Representative to the State Board
Francesca Alvarado has a BS in Accounting; however, her work is not her life. Francesca’s passion is human rights, and she has been active in areas such as Health care, Education, Domestic Violence, Pro-choice, Fair Wages etc. She has been on the Executive Board of several organizations such as AFSCME District Council 47 Local 2187, Coalition Labor Union Women, PHILA NOW, and PA NARAL. She is a member of various nonprofit organizations. One of her favorite quote is “My address is like my shoes. It travels with me. I abide where there is a fight against wrong."
—Mother Jones

Doris Spivey Pridgin – Representative to the State Board
Doris attended Temple University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta. In 1999 she retired after working as a teaching assistant, primarily with junior and senior high school social studies students. While working for the school district, Doris became active in the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers as a representative for her school. After retiring, Ms. Pridgin attended Community College. It was there that Doris became acquainted with NOW. Doris joined in 2000 and has shown exemplary service ever since! She always steps up to the plate when called upon to represent PhilaNOW at any event or speaking engagement.

Rosa B. Woods – Alternate Representative to the State Board
Rosa B. Woods is currently an elected Democratic Committee Person in the 22nd Ward in Philadelphia. For several years previously, she served as Committee person in the 9th Ward. Ms. Woods is a dedicated community activist and has worked diligently to seek changes to improve and uplift her community. Besides PhilaNOW, other organizations in which she is involved include: West Mount Airy Neighbors, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Progressive Women of Pennsylvania, and Triumph Baptist Church.
Ms. Woods is a political strategist, advisor, and consultant. In 2007 she led the campaign for Cindy Bass a candidate for City Council for the 8th Councilmanic District. In 2002 she was a Political consultant for Democratic National Committee as a facilitator for Political Seminars in Washington, D.C. Also, in 2002 she Coordinated Get Out the Vote for Gubernatorial Candidate Edward Rendall in the 22nd Ward. In 2000 she Coordinated the Black Clergy and Vicinity Gospel Rally for Democratic National Committee. With her expertise, in 2000 she led the Philadelphia Get Out the Vote effort for the NAACP National Voter Fund and supervised fourteen coordinators with over 3000 volunteers.
In 1999 Ms. Woods Coordinated the Northwest Philadelphia region for Mayoral candidate, John F. White, Jr., in Democratic Primary. Also, in 1996 she coordinated Black Clergy and Vicinity Gospel Rally for Democratic National Committee. In 1995 Ms. Woods was the ward Coordinator for Hon. Edward Rendell – Mayoral Race. he identified, trained, and supervised volunteer staff responsible for literature distribution as part of the “Get Out The Vote” campaign.

In 1995 Ms. Woods was the Campaign Manager for Robert T. Vance, Jr., Esquire. She developed and implemented a campaign strategy aimed at capturing the 8th District Council seat. She supervised the day-to-day activities for staff of 85 volunteers and paid staff. Also, she recruited over 400 volunteers for election day. She monitored campaign operations and finances against measurable goals and timetables.

In 1994 she was ward coordinator for Hon. Chaka Fattah – 2nd Congressional District. she coordinated grass roots communications and fundraising activities with supporters, ward leaders, committee people, and block captains in the 9th and 22nd Wards, to increase voter participation.

Political Action Committee Board
The Political Action Committee Board consists of the officers with the President of the chapter serving as President of the PAC board. Francesca Alvarado is Treasurer of the PAC board.

In addition to the officers, PAC board includes:

Cindy Bass
Cindy M. Bass is a dynamic political strategist, community activist, public speaker and policy formulator. She is currently an elected Democratic Committee Person in the 22nd Ward in Philadelphia, PA and an elected member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. In 2000, 2004 and 2008, Ms. Bass was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Currently, she is the Senior Policy Advisor on Urban and Domestic Policy to sixth term United States Congressman Chaka Fattah. Congressman Fattah is a nationally recognized expert on urban policy and education who sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee. Prior to joining Congressman Fattah’s staff, Ms. Bass was Special Assistant to then State Senator Allyson Schwartz, who was recently elected to Pennsylvania’s 13th United States Congressional seat.
Ms. Bass holds a deep commitment to increasing the role and the number of women and minorities in the political arena. She is a board member of The Philadelphia NOW PAC and formerly for the Metropolitan Career Center, NARAL Foundation and New Directions for Women. She is also the former chairperson for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s National Public Policy Committee, and the former chairperson of the Political Awareness Committee for this organization’s local chapter. Ms. Bass has also been involved in various organizations throughout the years, which have included the Philadelphia Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Democrat Women of Philadelphia, The NAACP, The Coalition of Labor Union Women, East Mt. Airy Neighbors and the steering committee for 2000 African American Women PAC. She is a frequent presenter and panelist at workshops and forums aimed at increasing the role and number of women and minorities involved in politics, education, business, and the health care arena. In 2006, Ms. Bass served as conference Chair for the Phila NOW Women of Color and Allies Summit. This successful conference reached hundreds of women throughout the Greater Philadelphia region and beyond.
Most recently, Ms. Bass was a candidate for City Council in Philadelphia’s 8th District. Ms. Bass finished in second place in a crowded field of challengers. As a candidate, Ms. Bass received numerous endorsements including both daily papers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News. The Inquirer described her as “poised, gracious and smart….. ready to put the skills and relationships she developed….. to good use on Council. She has walked the walk of neighborhood improvement in Northwest Philadelphia as a staffer at the superb Mount Airy, USA community development corporation and as a president of the East Mount Airy Neighbors. Her willingness to look anywhere and everywhere for best practices that Philadelphia could emulate would be a nice addition to an often-parochial Council”. The Daily News’ endorsement echoes this sentiment by stating “The district….is filled with possibilities. We believe Cindy M. Bass can turn those possibilities into realities…. Many things impress us about Bass….. But it's more than just her resume. Bass exudes the energy and political savvy needed to change things in the district and move it forward…. It's Bass who has the right experience, connections and drive to serve this district.”

Karen Bojar
Karen Bojar has served as President of Philadelphia NOW for the past eight years. She recently retired from her job as Professor of English and Women’s Studies and Coordinator of the Women's Studies program at the Community College of Philadelphia.
She has been a lifelong political activist and plans to continue her involvement in grassroots politics during her retirement and hopes to do what she can to support the new leadership of Phila NOW.
Her retirement projects include writing a history of the second wave feminist movement in Philadelphia and maintaining a blog about women and retirement at

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I’m glad I got it together to go to DC for the National Lobby Day to Stop Stupak

I’m glad I got it together to go to DC for the National Lobby Day to Stop Stupak and Pass Health Care Reform.

A diverse group of women from all over the country gathered in DC; the really good news is that the majority were young women in their 20’s and 30’s. I think many women in my generation breathed a sigh of relief when we saw all these young women determined to protect reproductive rights.

Lobby days can be tedious as you go to one office after another, usually meeting with staff rather than with elected officials. (Thanks to Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, one of the few elected officials who met with constituents.)

The lobbying may have been tedious, but the rally was inspirational. Leaders of major feminist organizations and women legislators with long careers fighting for gender equality affirmed their determination to stop this assault on women’s rights.

Many emphasized that that here has been a compromise in place for decades that federal funds can not be used for abortion but that women can purchase insurance coverage which includes abortion with private funds—-i.e.with their own money. The Stupak-Pitts amendment would overturn this compromise and dramatically change the status quo.

No other legal medical procedure has been singled out to be excluded from plans on the proposed newly created insurance exchange—just this procedure which applies only to women.

A common theme from the women legislators who have been fighting for real health care reform is “We are going to win this one. We are not going to pass health care reform which restricts access, which takes away a right which women currently possess.” As Carol Maloney (Dem. representative from NY) said, “I didn’t go to Congress to roll back women's rights."

We must make sure that in arguing that health care reform not undo the compromise in place for decades(the Hyde amendment), that we are not legimitizing this law's discrimination against low income women.

After we defeat Stupak, we will mobilize against the Hyde amendment which denies government employees and women on Medicaid access to abortion. And we will win!