As a member of the Ohio House and Senate Health and Retirement Committees for over 26 years, I have been exposed to many different approaches to health care and so called health care reform, none as egregious as the two bills that passed out of the House Health and Aging Committee and the House of Representatives in the past few months. The attack on women's health by a trio of state officials -- from the governor, John Kasich, to the Senate president, to the chair of a House committee -- has finally gotten my dander up.
What do we do in a legislature and state mostly controlled by men who have some difficulty using the medical terminology for genitals or understanding the difference between a woman's body and a man's? Why is it so hard for them to understand that health care needs are different for women? Yes, it must be true that some of our state legislators just don't seem to remember their mothers, sisters, daughters and granddaughters when they offer health care legislation that would basically ignore the needs of their loved ones.
But I digress. This is not some backroom discussion or bar room bragatorium but actual committee meetings being held in a state capital filled with much more learned individuals than I. Ok, maybe not. But they run for office and win enough votes from an electorate that needs scolding for not paying attention to details when they vote for their leaders... the end result? An attack on women's health.
I just don't understand their attitudes anymore. How does a "pro-life" governor, a president of the Ohio Senate and well weathered House committee chair miss the results of the last election? What part of the vote did they miss in the presidential election where women stood strong for Obama because of choice and the attacks from the right? These three guys are making decisions about women's choice and healthcare and will be doing it without very much discussion.
After countless hearings and gut wrenching testimony and halls filled with angry women, lo and behold, the triumvirate of right-wing politicos cave to the will of the people... at least for now. I write to my friends, the advocates, the women that came to the Health Committee to testify, my seven sisters, my three daughters:
Today I am happy to report that HB 125, the Heartbeat Bill, and HB 298 the defunding of Planned Parenthood has been shelved at least until next year. As a gesture of good will Rep. Celeste and I will not be offering HB 520 the Men's Health Protection Act or as it is affectionately called the Erectile Dysfunction bill. Legislative dysfunction in the Ohio House is well known but to alleviate any animus at this lame duck period, we will save our political Viagra for next year and rise up if they attack women's health care again. Please do not underestimate our motives. Facing stiff opposition from a flaccid group of legislators has never cooled our passion. Please stay tuned.
House Bill 520, introduced by myself and Representative Ted Celeste, will revise the laws pertaining to men experiencing problems with waking up, or getting up because of male impotence -- not to be confused with legislative incompetence. It also requires a doctor to get a notarized affidavit from one of the patient's partners to certify that the patient is in fact having problems with erectile dysfunction in the last 90 days. The bill will also:
- Refer the patient to a State Medical Board-approved sexual therapist for an assessment of the causes of the condition, and obtain a written report attesting that the symptoms are not solely attributable to a psychological condition.
- Conduct a cardiac stress test on the patient to verify his health is compatible with sexual activity.
- Notify patient in writing of potential risk and complications associated with taking these drugs and obtain the patient's signature acknowledging his understanding.
- Declare in writing that the prescription is being issued to treat a true medical problem and describe the medical rationale for the decision to issue the prescription.
- Place all documents in the patient's medical record and retain for at least 7 years.
- Require the patient to undergo a cardiac stress test every 90 days while patient is taking the medication.
- Require patient to attend at least 3 sessions of outpatient counseling within 6 months of initial prescription.
- Conduct a prostate exam on the patient to verify his health is compatible with sexual activity.
It seems only right that men should have to go through some health tests similar to those being required of women. I have enclosed a link to the bill. Help yourself and by the way, help your daughters and friends.