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Tonight's the last debate before the South Carolina primaries, but it's also the last before Super Tuesday, which includes California and its 494 delegates.

Will Tennessee Women be Left Behind with Health Care Reform?

August 25, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The time for Tennessee's Congressional delegation to hear from constituents at home is winding down, and some in the state are worried about what could be left out of the national debate on health care reform. Jeff Teague, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, says it's important that women's health issues aren't excluded from the health care debate and that women aren't left without coverage for procedures currently covered by most insurance.

"We just want to make sure that women's health care is included and that women cannot be worse off than they are today."

Teague says women of childbearing age spend, on average, 68 percent more in out-of-pocket health care costs than do men of the same age, and these greater expenses are often because of reproductive health-related needs. He says many times, women turn to community providers such as Planned Parenthood health centers.

"There are a lot of women and even a lot of men out there who use Planned Parenthood health centers as their primary source of health care, not just reproductive and sexual health care, but their primary source of health care."

He says there has been talk in the current debate about eliminating women's reproductive health care from the reform plan. However, Teague says, whatever form a final bill takes, women's health care should be included.

As for Tennessee's delegation, Congressman Bart Gordon has one last town hall meeting Wednesday at Volunteer Community College.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - TN