Women veterans a priority in Women's Health legislative agenda (w/video)

HARRISBURG, May 15 – This week state Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio and her colleagues in the Women's Health Caucus introduced their legislative agenda for the current session of the General Assembly.

The caucus is a bipartisan and bicameral group of legislators seeking to ensure legislation that supports Pennsylvania women is introduced and passed.

"In my first session in the legislature, this caucus focused only on one or two issues, generally around reproductive health," DeLissio said. "Since then, the caucus has come to understand that there are a myriad of issues that can better women's lives, and the caucus has worked hard to recruit legislators in both chambers and from both parties to introduce and support a package of bills."

The bills are categorized as follows:

Family-friendly working conditions: Reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers; sanitary conditions for nursing mothers; and protecting all employees against sexual harassment.

Economic fairness: Equal pay in the workplace, raising the minimum wage, retirement security; and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – increasing the earned income disregard.

Ensuring healthy lives: Ensuring patient trust; setting up a task force on health care for women veterans; and safe access to health care facilities.

Domestic violence awareness: Cell phone contract termination for domestic violence victims; early lease termination for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; and Pennsylvania safe campuses legislation.

DeLissio introduced the legislation that would establish the Women's Veterans' Health Care Task Force. The overall goal of this task force would be to study the health issues facing women veterans and make recommendations to the governor and General Assembly by April 30, 2016.

The 17-member task force would be composed of various individuals, including four women veterans who are commonwealth residents, representatives from the health care provider community, advocates and various state agency secretaries.

"It is well documented that women often present differently than men for many issues, including PTSD. It is critical that we understand how and if women veteran needs are being met in the commonwealth. The federal VA system has come under much scrutiny and if one outcome of the federal reviews is allowing vets to access care through private practice versus the VA system, this task force work allows Pennsylvania to respond quickly," DeLissio said.