The role of health policy in safeguarding women’s health

Nov 21, 2017
The role of health policy in safeguarding women’s health

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest contributors and do not reflect the view of Astellas.

HealthyWomen is America’s leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women. Its mission is to educate and empower women to make informed health choices for themselves and their families. A key component of HealthyWomen’s work is advocating on behalf of women to ensure that women’s health is a primary focus of policy makers and advocacy groups.

Change Together spoke to Phyllis Greenberger, Senior Vice President for Science and Health Policy, and Heidi Rosvold-Brenholtz, Vice President for Strategic Engagement and Health Policy, at HealthyWomen about why the group has embraced health policy as part of its mission.

Taking action to ‘Keep The Care’

#KeeptheCare is HealthyWomen’s campaign to mobilize women about the threat to their health posed by efforts to repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare). Under the ACA, more than 55 million women are eligible for healthcare coverage that includes 26 preventive care services, such as mammograms and pap tests, among other health screenings.1 If the ACA is repealed, however, coverage of women’s preventive health services may disappear.1

“So many women aren’t clear what the ACA is or the preventive care services it guarantees for women,” says Rosvold-Brenholtz, “consequently, many women across the country aren’t aware of the services they now have access to and what they could lose if the ACA is eventually repealed or replaced.”

On July 20, HealthyWomen hosted a Capitol Hill briefing to raise awareness about the impact eliminating preventive care for women would have and to urge Congress to protect these services. Expert insights provided by Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of Black Women’s Health Imperative, Elena Rios, M.D., President of the National Hispanic Medical Association, and Michael Miller, M.D., Senior Health Policy Advisor to HealthyWomen, at the briefing outlined how the ACA has improved women’s health and the consequences of rolling it back.

“The event was a success,” says Greenberger. “It was standing-room only and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.” She goes on to explain that supporters of HealthyWomen take the information provided at these briefings, as well as from the organization’s website and outreach programs, back to their constituents so they may contact their members of Congress and urge them to protect women’s access to preventive care in their state by insisting on support for the ACA.

For more information about the campaign and to find out how you can be involved, visit HealthyWomen’s dedicated website at KeepTheCare.

Collaboration and outreach

Working together with other advocacy groups is a hallmark of HealthyWomen’s success.

“By tapping into the knowledge and capabilities of different advocacy groups, we can build on each other’s strengths,” explains Rosvold-Brenholtz. “HealthyWomen has a unique and broad expertise and by working with other groups, such as the Black Women’s Health Imperative and the National Hispanic Medical Association, who focus on the health of specific constituencies, we can cover more ground.”

“Patient advocacy groups may think that influencing policies is a difficult task, but the key lies in maintaining a simple approach,” adds Greenberger. “Identify expertise and any existing programs or technology that can help you share, link and collaborate with others in your ecosystem, making sure you are amplifying beyond the echo chamber of your supporters.”

Other important women’s health policy issues that HealthyWomen is tackling include medication safety and access, opioid addiction, treatment and pain management alternatives, advocating for studying sex differences in research and expanding awareness about clinical trials and the importance of women participating in medical research. The group campaigns around various health topics and provides educational resources on a range of conditions and lifestyle issues through its website.

To mark Bladder Health Month, HealthyWomen’s CEO Beth Battaglino shares her thoughts on the bladder issues no one is talking about in her latest blog.


  1. HealthyWomen, 2017. Women’s Health Care Is at Risk. (accessed November 2017).


Phyllis E. Greenberger, MSW, is HealthyWomen’s Senior Vice President for Science & Health Policy. She directs HealthyWomen’s effort to publicize and support health policy that improves women’s lives and raise awareness among women about how policy affects their health. She works tirelessly to connect advocates and industry on policy issues of mutual interest to explore how HealthyWomen can amplify these issues and the women’s health needs connected to them. Phyllis leads HealthyWomen’s focus on raising awareness for inclusion of women and minorities in clinical trials and support for considering sex as a biological variable in research studies. As a well-respected and well-known women’s health advocate, Phyllis has earned widespread recognition during her long career for her contributions to advancing women’s health. To read Phyllis’ blog visit:

Heidi Rosvold-Brenholtz, M.Ed., is Senior Vice President for Strategic Engagement and Health Policy. Heidi was a founding partner of HealthyWomen (formerly the National Women’s Health Resource Center), and from 1992 to 2010, and helped establish the organization’s reputation for credible, evidence-based consumer health information. From 2010 to 2014 at the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), Heidi articulated and promoted the new ORWH director’s vision for sex differences research at NIH, and the office’s effort to raise awareness of the critical importance of sex as a biological variable. Heidi is responsible for expanding HealthyWomen’s reputation as a leader in women’s health policy and educating HealthyWomen’s audiences about policy issues important to their health. Heidi’s diverse editorial portfolio includes clients from nonprofit, federal, industry, public health, advocacy and academic settings.

The role of health policy in safeguarding women’s health

Astellas Patient Advocacy is a function within Corporate Affairs at Astellas that focuses on creating, building and maintaining third-party relationships. We serve as a conduit between Astellas and external stakeholders to help improve patient outcomes, improve access issues and address patients’ unmet needs head on.

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