Unification for Gender Balance

NASW has recently joined letters that promote women in leadership positions, support health insurance programs for children and address federal support for Medicaid.

NASW joined a group of leading women's rights organizations in encouraging President Barack Obama to appoint more women to high-level leadership positions.

In December, a letter signed by NASW was sent to then-President-elect Obama and his transition team to highlight the need for gender balance in White House, Cabinet and executive positions. The letter urged Obama to establish a Cabinet-level Office on Women that would deal not only with the status of women, but also with the inequities that women face in society and the world.

"Although many countries have a Cabinet minister responsible for addressing women's issues and concerns, it would be another historic first for the United States to recognize the importance of solving inequities faced by women as well as further empowering women and girls to reach for their dreams," the letter stated.

"With women so underrepresented in Congress, we believe it is crucial for women's representation to increase dramatically at the executive branch of decision-making," the letter stated.

The document was endorsed by several prominent women's rights organizations, including the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority, Black Women's Health Imperative and the National Congress of Black Women.

SCHIP support. NASW also joined the Alliance for Children and Families, the American Academy of Pediatrics, First Focus, the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Voices for America's Children in asking members of Congress to address children's health issues as they consider large-scale health care reform.

A letter sent to lawmakers stated, "As Congress embarks on health reform, it is important to remember children are not only our most precious national resource, they also represent one-third of the nation's non-Medicare population. The sad reality is that when it comes to large-scale system reform, too often, children are an afterthought. As your committee undertakes the task of reviewing and rethinking our nation's health care delivery systems, we urge you to ensure that the specific health concerns of children are taken into account as new policies are being developed. We were proud to support the strong, bipartisan State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization legislation which overwhelmingly passed Congress last year and we were disappointed that our collective efforts were insufficient to override a presidential veto. We look forward to continuing to work with you to get a strong and comprehensive SCHIP reauthorization across the finish line."

Aging Council. NASW, as part of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, joined in sending a letter to Congress that addresses the need to support an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), as part of the second economic stimulus bill. "We believe an increase in the FMAP is an effective way to stimulate the economy and therefore one of the best ways of avoiding the cuts in health care, education, local government aid, and other critical services that are threatened by state fiscal crises," the letter stated.

It noted that some states have begun implementing drastic cuts to Medicaid due to state budget shortfalls and that other states are considering such action. To avoid a further economic downturn, the letter asks for quick action to pass economic stimulus that includes providing states fiscal relief by temporarily augmenting the current level of federal support for state Medicaid programs.

The letter also asked that lawmakers include $60 million for the Older Americans Act (OAA) senior nutrition programs and to provide additional emergency funding for OAA programs.