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RWVoices

Wednesday
Jan112017

We’re having an impact. Keep it up!

It’s been an eventful week so far in Washington, where the Senate has begun taking votes on a budget resolution, the first step in repealing key aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are signs of growing apprehension among Republicans about repealing health reform without a replacement plan in place.
 
We know they should be nervous! ACA supporters are describing a vote to repeal without an immediate replacement as tantamount to asking people to jump out of a plane, while promising a parachute will be provided before the jumpers crash to earth. Why should any of us be making that jump?
 
Five Republican senators led by Bob Corker (R-TN) have filed an amendment to push back Congress’s consideration of ACA repeal. And at least 10 Republican senators (including from some surprising corners) have publicly voiced concerns about separating repeal from replace.
 
Meanwhile, 13 of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate warned their Republican colleagues not to look to them for help if ACA repeal leads to chaos. They said:  “By pushing an immediate repeal through a partisan reconciliation process, we won't have the opportunity to work together and build on common ground. By moving forward with no plan in place for the future of our health care system, those who support repeal assume the responsibility of mitigating the unnecessary and avoidable chaos this will create.”
 
This, in turn, amplifies concerns among rank-and-file House Republicans that they will go out on a limb only to find that their Senate colleagues have cut it off and left them to fall. Last week, House Republicans attempted to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. Thousands of angry calls flooded into the Capitol and the decision was quickly reversed—but not before the President-elect made clear to his fellow Republicans that he will turn on them when the politics turn sour.
 
What does all of this mean for us? It means we have a very real opening to stop repeal in its tracks, and a clear example of how public outrage can influence members of Congress if we make our voices heard. At the very least, we can delay any vote to repeal. Remember that Republican leaders originally wanted to put a repeal bill on the new President’s desk on inauguration day, Jan. 20. That date has now fallen by the wayside, and Congressional leaders are now aiming to have a repeal bill done by President’s Day, which is Feb. 20.


What can you do this week?

Today, keep those calls going into the Senate! Our friends in the national Protect Our Care Coalition have established a toll-free hotline (888-523-8974) you can use to call your Senators and tell them not to take away our health care.


Already this week, amendments offered to prevent Republicans from   voucherizing Medicare and capping Medicaid and to “prevent the Senate from breaking Donald Trump's promise that ‘there will be no cuts’” managed to peel off key Republicans, even though these proposals failed to get the 60 votes needed for passage. (See how your senators voted here and here.) Let your Senators know how you feel about their votes!
 
Join us tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 12, as Raising Women’s Voices and the Ms. Foundation for Women launch the next phase of our social media campaign asking women and LGBTQ people to post their answers to this question: What if I lose coverage? Trei Clark of Atlanta shared her story with us in this image to kick off the campaign.
 
 
Post your answer using the hashtags #IfILoseCoverage and #ProtectOurCare. Help us raise the visibility of the millions of women, LGBTQ people and our families who could lose their coverage, or lose protections against discrimination, gender rating, and other insurance company bad practices that were outlawed by the ACA. Want to know more about what we could lose? Check out our fact sheets at www.RaisingWomensVoices.net.
 
On Sunday, Jan. 15, join one of the dozens of events being held around the country as part of a national day of action declared by Senator Bernie Sanders and colleagues. Find an event near you.
 
Next week: Women march on Washington…and beyond
 
Raising Women’s Voices has endorsed the Women’s March on Washington, and is encouraging supporters of women’s health and the Affordable Care Act to participate in one of the dozens of marches and rallies taking place around the country on January 21st

The Women’s March on Washington is being held on the day after the inauguration to show President Trump that women’s rights are human rights, and to stand in solidarity for our rights, our safety, our health and our families. We are inspired by the hundreds of thousands of supporters of women’s rights who have spontaneously engaged in
 the March. We applaud the organizers for taking into account the multiple ways in which women experience oppression and their recognition that all supporters of women’s rights need to consciously support women of color, LGBTQ folks, people with disabilities, immigrants, Muslims and other religious minorities who have been targeted for hateful rhetoric. 
 
RWV is encouraging our supporters to participate in marches and rallies near them. There are Sister Marches in all 50 states, in dozens of cities. Marching in Washington, DC is symbolically important, and RWV will be at the DC March on the 21st.  But we know that President Trump’s attacks on the Affordable Care Act and reproductive health services won’t be stopped by one day of action, no matter how many people participate. Locally-organized events can play a crucial role in building long-lasting movements, which is what it’s going to take to protect health care. 

RWV and its regional coordinators will be participating in marches in Atlanta, Colorado, Oregon, NewYork and several other locations. Look for folks with RWV stickers and signs near you – and get connected! We need your support.
Wednesday
Jan042017

What can YOU do to protect our health care?

It’s only the first week of 2017, and already our health care is under attack. In Washington, opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are readying Congressional votes to repeal the health care law without presenting a viable replacement plan and to defund Planned Parenthood. They’re also talking about big changes in Medicaid and Medicare. Meanwhile, we’re reeling from a judge’s action on New Year’s Eve instituting a nationwide injunction against the ACA rule that was about to go into effect protecting transgender people from discrimination in health care.

This week, the new Congress is convening and one of its first actions is likely to be passing a budget resolution that includes instructions for repealing key aspects of the ACA through a separate budget reconciliation vote later this month. Don’t worry about the technicalities! The important thing to know is that Congressional Republicans are rushing ahead without any replacement plan in place. You heard us right: Repeal with no replacement. 

The politicians pushing this reckless vote are insisting that they will delay the effective date of the ACA repeal and that eventually, they will come up with a plan to replace the health care law. But nothing we’ve seen so far would safeguard the more than 20 million people who’ve gained health coverage because of the ACA. So, we have to ask: What’s the rush? Why vote on repealing the ACA before you show us your replacement plan? We fear the truth is that their promise to fix this disaster later is a sham.


What you can do now


What can YOU do to protect our health care? The challenges we are facing can seem enormous. But there are concrete things you can do to fight back. If you or anyone you know (a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a patient of yours, someone in your community) has been helped by the ACA health care law, now is the time to speak out! Here’s the first thing you can do:
  • Call the people who represent you in Washington. SEIU has set up a toll-free number (866) 426 2631 to help you contact your Senators.  The Senate is the place where this ill-advised plan could be stopped. Already, two Republican Senators (Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky) are expressing worries about repealing the ACA without having a replacement ready to go. We need more Senators to voice the same concerns if we are to halt the risky repeal without replacement vote.
  • What to say? The message is simple: Don’t take away our health care! Personalize it, if you can. For example, you could say: “Because of the financial help I got (premium subsidies made possible by the ACA), I was finally able to afford health insurance and get the care I need.” Or, “Because my sister qualified for the expanded Medicaid program, she was able to get a mammogram and other women’s health care she desperately needed, but could not afford.” You can learn more about what women could lose by looking at the fact sheets on our website here.
  • Tell your Senators and representative that defunding Planned Parenthood and other women’s clinics is a terrible idea.  One in five women has visited a Planned Parenthood health center for care in her lifetime and many rely on Planned Parenthood or other women’s clinics as their primary health provider. This is especially true for women who are uninsured. It makes no sense to repeal ACA health insurance coverage and at the same time, defund the only place millions of women will be able to go for the care they need.
  • Spread the word! Encourage your friends, relatives, and neighbors to take these same actions to protect our care.
  • Tell your story! Our Senators need to hear what would happen if you and your family lose your health insurance coverage because the ACA is repealed.  You can share your story on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage. An easy way to do this is to take a piece of paper and write your story on it. Keep it short. Just finish this sentence: If I (or we) lose coverage….. (what will happen?) Then have someone take a photo of you and your sign, and post the image on your Facebook timeline. 
You can also share your story through our website here. We will make your story available to Senators from your state who need personal stories to help them oppose repeal of the ACA without a replacement plan.

What can we do about that judge’s injunction against the ACA nondiscrimination rule protecting transgender people? Here’s one idea: Contact the state Attorneys General who are pushing the lawsuit challenging the rule. If you live in one of these states, call your Attorney General’s office and say you oppose this use of your state tax dollars: Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Kentucky, and Mississippi. You can visit the website of the National Association of Attorneys General to find out who they are and how to contact them.

What’s ahead?

Each week, we will update you about what is happening, and offer some suggestions about actions you can take. To keep up to speed every day, like our Facebook page, where we post updates several times a day.

Coming up soon will be the Jan. 15 nationwide “day of action” to mobilize grassroots opposition to the repeal of the ACA with no replacement. Next week, we will describe some of the actions planned in different states and tell you how to get involved. Already have plans or ideas for local actions in your state? Let us know what you have planned! Contact us at info(at)RaisingWomensVoices.net
Wednesday
Dec212016

We’re in the streets and online to save women’s health care!

  

It’s going to take all of us, working together, to protect the gains we’ve made for women’s health coverage and care over the last eight years. Raising Women’s Voices and our regional coordinators around the country are already hard at work, sounding the alarm. 

This week, coordinators in Connecticut, Georgia, New York and West Virginia joined rallies in state capitols or outside the offices of U.S. representatives or senators from the Republican majority in Congress. We sent the messages “Don’t take away my health care” and “Protect Women’s Health Care.”

Shown right is Cindi Azuogu, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for Raising Women’s Voices-NY. She was at a Tuesday rally outside the office U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, R-Staten Island. “I was at the rally to call on Congressman Donovan to protect our care,” Cindi explains. “The ACA has provided health care for more women than ever before. Because of the ACA, women have access to free birth control and other preventive services. We simply cannot afford to repeal the ACA!”

Also busy Tuesday were staffers from the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, which is RWV’s Georgia coordinator. At left is Katie Mae Stewart, FWHC’s Community Engagement Coordinator, and at right is Fellowship Coordinator Leigh Bond. They were part of a demonstration outside the state capitol. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, the nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Trump administration, is a vocal opponent of contraceptive coverage.

Also out defending the ACA Tuesday was Susan Yolen from Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, the RWV coordinator for Connecticut and Rhode Island. She joined Ct Citizen Action for a
speakout
at Capitol Community College in downtown Hartford where the focus was on the potentially devastating impact of ACA repeal on the Medicaid expansion population. Several powerful stories were shared from folks who, having been hurt by the economic downturn of 2008, were desperately in need of the health coverage that the ACA has offered.
 
Meanwhile, Anduwyn Williams from WVFREE, the RWV coordinator for West Virginia, promoted and participated in a demonstration Tuesday outside the Charleston office of Republican U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
Anduwyn, who is second from the left in the photo at right, says: “The photo in the poster I am holding shows the WVU stadium, which we could fill three times over with people who benefited from the ACA and Medicaid expansion.”

Our Chicago-based RWV regional coordinator, Kathy Waligora of EverThrive Illinois, has been working with coalition partners to educate Illinois residents and elected officials about the threats of ACA repeal and has been leading state efforts to fight back and Keep Illinois Covered. She co-facilitated a webinar, “Defending Health Access in Illinois: the ACA and Medicaid Post-Election,” which had close to 300 attendees. EverThrive created fact sheets explaining how the ACA and Medicaid have benefited the people of Illinois and responding to frequently asked key questions about what ACA repeal could mean for Illinois.

EverThrive participated in advocacy efforts to influence their state’s response to the letter sent to governors and insurance commissioners by House Republicans asking for input on crafting an ACA replacement plan. In addition, they sent out an action alert encouraging Illinoisans to call Governor Rauner (R) and let him know what health care means to them and their community. EverThrive also participated in a town hall meeting where constituents were able to voice concerns to Senator Dick Durbin (D) about ACA repeal.

Sara Finger, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, the RWV coordinator in that state, wrote a terrific article for the Huffington Post called “Women have everything to lose when the GOP kills the ACA.” Check it out here! Visit the Raising Women’s Voices website to find fact sheets explaining in detail what women have to lose if the ACA is repealed. You can download these materials and use them to educate your friends, family, and colleagues. 

Please support our work to defend women’s health care and coverage in 2017! You can make a tax-deductible donation to Raising Women’s Voices through the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Or you can mail a check made out to Community Catalyst (earmarked for Raising Women’s Voices) to Raising Women’s Voices, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1600, NY, NY 10115.


The importance of no co-pay coverage of women’s preventive services


Raising Women’s Voices has been posting nine colorful graphics on Facebook reminding women of what’s at stake if the ACA is repealed with no viable replacement, and if Trump administration appointees undo the women’s preventive services requirements. Yesterday, we highlighted contraceptive coverage without co-pays, which more than 55 million women now enjoy in their private health insurance coverage thanks to the ACA! Women are so worried about losing birth control coverage that they are flocking to doctors and clinics to get contraception now, PBS reported.

Yesterday was also the day when the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency within HHS, announced its update to these requirements. The Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines, as they are formally known, determine which preventive services must be covered without co-pay or deductible. Prior to the election, we wrote about our hopes for a far-reaching update that would incorporate some best practices from the states, such as coverage for a vasectomy, the ability to pick up a full-year supply of contraceptives at once, and coverage for over-the-counter methods without a prescription. After the election, we wrote about how an incoming Trump administration could dismantle contraceptive coverage entirely, even without Congress.

That is why we were happy to see HRSA affirm once again that contraception is critical preventive health care for women. While they did not include some of our hoped-for best practices, they make clear that “adolescent and adult women [must] have access to the full range of female-controlled contraceptives” without cost-sharing. They also further clarified that contraceptive care goes beyond a single visit or prescription and includes “contraceptive counseling, initiation of contraceptive use, and follow-up care (e.g., management, and evaluation as well as changes to and removal or discontinuation of the contraceptive method).”

The recommendations were formulated by a non-partisan panel of experts led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). While nothing in the update prevents a Trump-led HRSA from reversing course—either by stripping contraception from the list of preventive services or by creating so many loopholes to coverage as to make it meaningless—the experts’ affirmation of contraception-as-prevention gives a scientific stamp of approval to what millions of women already know. A 2016 survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that 81% of adults agree that birth control is a basic part of women’s health care.

 

Thursday
Dec152016

What’s at stake for women if the ACA is repealed?


Enroll for 2017, and help protect our care!


Today is the last day for people to enroll for health insurance coverage that starts on January 1. Haven’t signed up yet?  It’s not too late! Visit www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596. If you miss today’s deadline, you can still sign up through until Jan. 31, but your coverage won’t start until February or March.

But will your coverage be there for you, with the federal government soon to be led by politicians determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Your coverage from ACA marketplaces like healthcare.gov is safe for 2017, but beyond that, who knows?

What’s at stake for women if the ACA is repealed?

That’s why we are launching a social media campaign today to explain what’s at stake for women if the ACA is repealed. Each day, we will post on our RWV Facebook page a new “badge” explaining one way the ACA has been helping women and our families.

 
Because of the Affordable Care Act, families like mine get subsidies to help pay for insurance coverage we bought through healthcare.gov. Don’t repeal the ACA and leave us without coverage we can afford! #ProtectOurCare #IfILoseCoverage

Women made up nearly 54 percent of the 12.7 million enrollees in the ACA marketplace health plans for 2016, according to a June 2016 report from HHS. That’s 6.8 million women covered, just in the private marketplace plans, and 45 percent of those are in their prime reproductive years (18 to 44). For most, their premiums have been lowered by subsidies, in the form of tax credits. Those credits would be eliminated under potential ACA repeal measures that Congressional majorities want to send to the White House in late January, without any replacement plan that would protect our care.

Help us spread the word about what is at stake for women and our families! You can “like” our Facebook page here and share each day’s images with you friends, family and colleagues. 

Please make a donation to support our work to protect the coverage and care women have gained through the ACA. You can make a tax deductible donation through the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Or you can send a check to Raising Women’s Voices at 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1600, NY, NY 10115.

Here’s a preview of tomorrow’s badge highlighting another important ACA provision that is helping women and families. Look for these “badges” on social media in the days ahead!

In states that expanded Medicaid, millions of women finally got coverage for the care they needed. Before that, many didn’t qualify as single individuals. Don’t repeal the ACA and leave us without coverage! #ProtectOurCare #IfILoseCoverage

Our annual convening of RWV regional coordinators



How do we respond to the election results, and the resulting challenges to coverage for and provision of women’s and LGBTQ health care? That was the big question in the room last week, when Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C. The entire group is pictured above.

We heard from national experts on how the new Congress and President could move to repeal the Affordable Care Act quickly through a planned vote in January or early February, without presenting any viable plan for replacing it. We heard about threats to Medicaid – not only an end to the expansion that has taken place in a number of states under the ACA, but also proposals to turn Medicaid into a block grant program or per capita program that could mean less coverage for fewer low-income people. Our coordinators, including Kwajelyn Jackson from the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta (pictured at left) listened closely and had lots of questions.

We also discussed the danger to contraceptive coverage without co-pays from Tom Price, the nominee to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, and who opposes birth control. One of our RWV regional coordinators, Kathy Waligora from Everthrive Illinois (pictured at left, along with Valencia Robinson from Mississippi) described the successful drive in her state to enact legislation that provides contraceptive coverage without co-pays, and will be in place if the federal requirement is eliminated. One of Raising Women’s Voices priorities in 2017 will be replicating this work in other states, while loudly opposing any repeal of the contraceptive coverage that has been made possible by HHS implementation of the Women’s Preventive Services Amendment of the Affordable Care Act.

Clearly, we have a lot of work to do in 2017 to defend the gains we have made and protect the women, LGBTQ people and families for whom we advocate. Our regional coordinators will be taking the national strategies to defend the ACA and Medicaid back to their home states and devising the best ways for them to be engaged, with support from Raising Women’s Voices. Among those actively engaged at our convening were Sara Finger of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (shown at upper left)  and Aurora Harris from the Lesbian Health Initiative in Houston, Texas (shown at lower right).

 

Tuesday
Dec062016

Our health care is on the line!

The threats to our health care from the incoming administration and its allies in Congress are not just theoretical. They are personal for us, and for many of you!

That’s why we are asking for your support to help us protect the amazing gains we’ve made for health coverage and care with the enactment and implementation for the Affordable Care Act. Please support our #IfILoseCoverage campaign with a donation through the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Designate it for Raising Women’s Voices.


Cindi’s story: How the ACA transformed a young adult’s health care
 
Cindi Azuogu is the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for Raising Women’s Voices-NY. While she was busy collecting stories from women and LGBTQ people about what would happen if they lose their coverage, Cindi shared her personal story with us:

“In August 2013, I rushed to make an appointment with my gynecologist. It was finally here: free birth control under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2013, I was 22 and hadn’t even begun to think about the provision in the ACA that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until 26.
 
Now, I am 25 years old. Even with a full time job, I can save money by remaining on my parents’ plan for another year. I’ve been using those funds to pay off student loans and begin planning for my future.
 
I can also take charge of my health care, and make choices today that will influence my well-being as I age. For example, free access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) has allowed me to plan up to 10 years into the future.
 
The ACA is notorious for being an extremely complex piece of health care law—which is not far from the truth. But it’s also the truth that the ACA has transformed health care for millions of people like me. I’m ready to fight to save the ACA!”

If you have a story like Cindi’s to share, let us know! Post it on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage or submit it through our on-line story collection form here. And, please support our campaign to save the ACA by making a donation through the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Designate it for Raising Women’s Voices.

 
Now, the ACA and young adults -- from a Mom’s perspective!
 
Young adults losing coverage? Cindy Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network and Co-founder of Raising Women’s Voices, has her own mother-and-daughter story to tell:
 
“A few months ago, I wrote a very upbeat article for this newsletter about my daughter and millions of other young adults benefiting from the ACA in two ways – staying on their parents’ plans until they turned 26 and being able to get covered through the Marketplace if their employer didn’t offer health insurance. 
 
My daughter, Sara, was born in 1990 and aged out of family coverage in July, when she turned 26. I helped her shop for her own insurance plan through our state marketplace, and she enrolled in a great plan that covered her existing doctors and all the services she needed. She picked a plan with low co-pays and, thanks to an ACA subsidy, a monthly premium that she could afford. 
 
What will happen now? If ACA subsidies (premium tax credits) are cut, most people who get covered through the Marketplace won’t be able to afford their premiums. Monthly premiums could jump from $106 (the average people pay after the tax credits are taken into account) to $386 a month, far beyond what most people who get insurance through the marketplace can afford. Young adults are the least likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance, leaving them with few or no options to cover the cost of their health care needs. Prior to the ACA, 30 percent of young adults were uninsured and nearly half reported problems paying medical bills. 
 
The ACA changed things for the better. According to HHS, 3.8 million young adults gained coverage from the start of Open Enrollment in October 2013 through early 2016, and the un-insurance rate for young adults is down to 14%. If the Trump/Pence administration follows through on their promise to repeal the ACA, my daughter, and millions of other young adults will lose their coverage. 
 
Help us fight repeal of the ACA with a tax-deductible donation now!