Recent Articles
This area does not yet contain any content.
The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.
Navigation

RWVoices

Thursday
Dec012016

Women speak out about #IfILoseCoverage

 Amazing outpouring of stories from women across the nation!

We used Twitter and Facebook to ask women what would happen if they and their families lose their health insurance coverage through repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Within minutes, we began to hear from women across the country. We will be sharing some of them in the coming weeks, as we mobilize women to stop repeal of the ACA without passage of a viable replacement plan:

          

           

           

           

Stories like these can help us convince policymakers in Washington not to take a risky ACA repeal vote in January, without also approving a solid replacement plan that protects our coverage! Please send us your story about what would happen if you lose your coverage. You can share it using the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage on Twitter or on our Facebook page (RWV4Healthcare). You can also submit it through our on-line form here

We are especially interested in stories from women in these states: Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. We need to convince lawmakers from those states not to vote for repealing the ACA without a replacement. They need to hear about the harm it would do to women and families in their states.

Please donate to support our campaign

Let’s be blunt: The forces that want to repeal our ACA coverage are well funded. We are not. Like women all over the country, we are trying to do what needs to be done with pretty meager resources. We’re careful. We pinch our pennies and look for discounts. But we need your help at this crucial time.

Please support our #IfILoseCoverage campaign with a donation of whatever you can afford. You can make a donation through the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Designate your donation for Raising Women’s Voices.

With Tom Price at HHS, we will have our work cut out for us!

Longtime ACA critic Tom Price is Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. This is bad news for women and for the millions of Americans who benefit from the ACA. Price(R-GA) is an orthopedic surgeon and member of the House of Representatives since 2005. He has been vocal about his intention to repeal the ACA, as well as his opposition to women’s health and family planning services.
 
If confirmed as HHS secretary, Price would control the administration of the ACA, Medicaid, Medicare and theChildren’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). Given Price’s staunch opposition to the ACA, one of his top priorities will likely be its immediate repeal. As a member of Congress, Price has already introduced his own legislation to do just that. Price’s bill -- the Empowering Patients First Act – would do quite the opposite.
 
Here’s what Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) had to say about Price: “Congressman Price has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want when it comes to Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, and Planned Parenthood. Thanks to those three programs, millions of American seniors, families, people with disabilities and women have access to quality, affordable health care. Nominating Congressman Price to be the HHS secretary is akin to asking the fox to guard the hen house.”
 
Price has voted again and again to defund family planning services. He is so out of touch with the realities of women’s lives that, when asked about low-income women who can’t afford birth control without the ACA’s coverage, he responded “bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one.” Price’s comments simply do not reflect reality. In fact, a recent poll indicated that over half of young women aged 18 to 34 have struggled to afford prescription birth control.
 
Help us send the message to Price and others in Washington that women’s health matters and we cannot afford to lose our coverage. Join our #IfILoseCoverage social media campaign and share your own story about what would happen if you lost coverage.

 

Monday
Nov212016

Join our social media campaign: #IfILoseCoverage


It’s no longer just a far-fetched idea that Congress and the President could repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, President-elect Trump and the anti-ACA majority in Congress have pledged to do exactly that soon after the inauguration in late January.

What’s at stake for women and our families? A lot! Millions of women and families will be affected if the ACA is repealed. Fact sheets on our website outline who could lose coverage:
  • Women could lose free coverage of preventive services, such as birth control and annual well-woman exams, whether they get insurance from their employers or through the ACA marketplaces.
  • Women who have been able to buy private health plans through the ACA marketplaces could lose the subsidies (tax credits) that have helped make their monthly premiums much lower.
  • Women who have gained free or low-cost health coverage through Medicaid expansion could lose it.
  • OIder women could lose the gains in Medicare coverage the ACA made possible, such as free preventive care (such as mammograms and annual checkups) and the closing of the prescription drug “donut hole.”
How can you raise your voice about what losing coverage would mean to you? Raising Women’s Voices and the Ms. Foundation for Women are partnering to launch a social media campaign that will make visible the consequences of losing our coverage. We’ve made it simple for you to join:
  • On Twitter: Using the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage, briefly answer this question for you and your family members: What if I/we lose coverage? We will have a Twitter Storm today (Tuesday, Nov. 22) from 1 to 2 p.m. to kick off this conversation.
  • On Facebook: Using the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage, you can describe in greater detail what the consequences would be for you and your family members.
  • On both Facebook and Twitter: You can amplify your message online by changing your profile pictures to include the campaign hashtag #IfILoseCoverage. It just takes two easy steps. Go to the campaign Twibbon page here: http://twibbon.com/Support/if-i-lose-coverage
  • By submitting your answer to “What if I lose coverage?” to our story-gathering google form here: https://goo.gl/forms/zCEHHP6zNjaTocC93
A tip on how you can dramatize your own story: Take a piece of paper, write the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage at the top and giving a simple, one-sentence answer to the question “What if I lose coverage?” Then take a selfie with the paper, and post it online. See examples below.

                 

Need some sample Tweets?
  • #IfIlosecoverage I will no longer be able to afford my birth control.
  • #IfIlosecoverage preventive services will not be free. I need free #STIscreening.
  • I’m pregnant but #IfIlosecoverage I may not get maternity care #healthybabieshealthymoms.
  • #IfIlosecoverage I wouldn't be able to pay for PrEP – to keep myself at low risk, I need it.
  • #IfIlosecoverage I’d be afraid to do all the activities that keep me healthy, like biking and hiking.
  • #IfIlosecoverage I won’t be going to my annual free check-up.
Need some sample Facebook messages?
  • Because of the ACA, I’ve been able to stay on my parent’s health insurance and save money. If I  lose my coverage and have to pay for my own health insurance, I won’t be able to afford to pay my student loans. #IfILoseCoverage
  • Since the passage of the ACA, I have been able to be proactive about screening for breast cancer because mammograms are FREE. #IfIlosecoverage, mammograms will no longer be free for me and I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford them. This worries me because there is a history of breast cancer in my family. I need free mammograms!
  • Two years ago I was able to catch cervical cancer in its early stages. I could get this screening because it was free under the ACA. This screening saved my life. #IfIlosecoverage I would not be here today.  
  • My grandma was very upset when she had to pay so much money for her medications.  After the ACA she was happier because the Medicare donut hole was closing. If they repeal the ACA, I’m worried my grandma might not take her medicine because it’s so expensive. #keepgrandmahealthy #IfIlosecoverage
  • I finally got health insurance with the Medicaid expansion. #IfIlosecoverage I would go back to being uninsured and unhealthy. My chronic condition will not be managed, because I don’t have the money, I don’t want to live that life again. I want to live a healthy life, but it is difficult to if I don’t have #healthinsurance.  
Support our campaign! Help us get the message out as the change of administrations in Washington draws ever closer. Make a tax-deductible donation to Raising Women’s Voices through the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Earmark your donation for the #IfILoseCoverage campaign.
Thursday
Nov172016

What if we lose coverage? Speak out!


Since the election of a President who has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with the help of a willing majority in Congress, women and families have been asking ourselves: “What if I lose coverage?”

The answers are disturbing: A return to high out-of-pocket costs for birth control and other women’s preventive services. No more guaranteed coverage of maternity care. Women left without coverage for cancer treatment. More medical bankruptcies that threaten our families.
 
Next week, Raising Women’s Voices will be launching a social media campaign encouraging women and our families to share our answers to the question: “What if I lose coverage?” We hope you will join us in raising our collective voices to tell Washington that we cannot afford to lose the coverage we have gained!
 
Get ready to share your story on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #IfILoseCoverage. And, if you are thankful that we are raising our voices about what would happen if we lose our coverage, please support our campaign with a donation
through the donate button on our website. It will take you to the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Earmark your donation for the Raising Women’s Voices #If I Lose Coverage campaign.

Meanwhile, keep enrolling in coverage!

Since the election, the number of people enrolling in coverage has been skyrocketing. That’s great, because if more people have coverage, there will be more people speaking up for keeping their coverage!

We know many of you are hearing from your base that people are discouraged from enrolling due to the belief that ACA will be gone in early 2017. It's important to assure people that their coverage will not be taken away so swiftly, encourage them to enroll, and assure and encourage them to join the fight to keep their ACA benefits. 

Under the ACA repeal legislation that has passed Congress previously, there is a two-year delay in the effective date, in order to allow health insurers, providers, and individuals to prepare for the changes. So, while raising our voices against losing coverage, we also need to help uninsured women and families enroll now, so they will have coverage in 2017.

What’s at stake: They’re coming for our birth control!

 
What will a Trump Administration and a Republican-led Congress do to the contraceptive coverage that millions of women have been enjoying because of the Affordable Care Act? Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been openly hostile to reproductive health as governor of Indiana. House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the birth control benefit as a “little nitty-gritty detail” in a news interview, and refused to say whether it will continue in any plan to repeal and replace the ACA.
 
But the coverage could be in jeopardy even before Congress acts to repeal the ACA. As faithful readers of this e-newsletter know, birth control coverage without copays or deductible payments is made possible by the ACA, but it isn't actually in the law itself. The law simply tasks an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with coming up with a list of preventive services to be covered.
 
That means that the Trump Administration has the power to unilaterally repeal birth control coverage without Congress having to lift a finger. HHS simply needs to drop it from the list of approved preventive services. The process won’t be immediate. To change regulations, HHS will need to initiate formal rule-making and open a public comment period. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has the power to waive certain steps and expedite others, but 2017 plan years aren’t likely to be affected. That said, women are right to start planning now.
 
Right now, the people about to take charge in Washington aren’t hearing from the millions of women at risk of losing coverage. “No one is banging on my door saying, ‘Save this program,’” says Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, who is in the running to chair the House committee with jurisdiction over health care. Help us change that now!
 
Speak out! #IfILoseCoverage.

Backing up our birth control with state-level contraceptive coverage laws

As we fight to maintain contraceptive coverage without co-pays as a federal requirement, Raising Women’s Voices will also be working with our state-based regional coordinators and our women’s health allies to enact state-level contraceptive coverage laws.  
 
A handful of states
 
have passed contraceptive coverage laws that aim to ensure comprehensive access to birth control. While the Obama Administration required insurers to cover all 18 FDA-approved methods of contraception without cost-sharing, as well as provide an easy-to-use exceptions process, inconsistent implementation and enforcement on a local level led states to pass legislation to fill in coverage gaps. Now, with expected threats to contraceptive coverage at the federal level, these state laws are becoming more important than ever.
 
Maryland, Vermont, and Illinois are among the group of states that have recently passed state contraceptive coverage laws—with two RWV regional coordinators playing key roles. Advocates in states such as Massachusetts and New York have been working hard to advance similar bills that would protect and expand contraceptive coverage.
 
Stay tuned to future RWV newsletters to learn how you can help Raising Women’s Voices and women’s health advocates in your state back up your birth control, in case we lose coverage under the Trump administration.
 
Please support our campaign with a donation through the Network for Good page of our fiscal sponsor, Community Catalyst. Earmark your donation for the Raising Women’s Voices #If I Lose Coverage campaign.

Thursday
Nov102016

Our plan: Raising Our Voices in difficult times

A word from the founding mothers
 
This is not the update we had hoped to be sending this week. Like many of you, we are shocked and worried about the future of our country and our work. The tone set during this campaign was so hurtful to so many of us. It is difficult to see these messages accepted and even embraced by many Americans.
 
But, as the founding “mothers” of Raising Women’s Voices, we know that after we recover and regroup, we must redouble our efforts. We must be the voice of the opposition in Washington and in many states across the country. We must speak effectively and powerfully for the health
care needs of women, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants, people with disabilities, low-income people and all those who are likely to be even more marginalized come 2017.
 
We will use the coming weeks to strategize about how to protect the gains we have made with the Affordable Care Act. In the meantime, stay strong and be in touch with us!
 
Byllye Avery, Cindy Pearson, Lois Uttley
Co-founders, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need

 
The coming battles

The battles ahead are likely to be just as unpredictable as was this election result. We have a much clearer understanding of the true policy priorities of House and Senate Republicans than we do of our president-elect. Trump’s announced policy priorities have been thin and his campaign rhetoric and promises often contradicted those of his congressional allies and even his own earlier statements. Deep divisions remain within the party—as exemplified by the failure of the House and Senate to pass a budget resolution this year—and between the party and the president-elect over Social Security, Medicare, infrastructure spending and more.
 
But in other areas, we expect Republicans to attempt quick action. Trump has promised to make repealing the Affordable Care Act a top priority and congressional Republicans have proven willing to vote on repeal without having a replacement proposal in hand. In late 2015, congressional Republicans used a procedural tool known as budget reconciliation to sidestep a filibuster in the Senate and pass an ACA repeal. Vetoed by President Obama, the bill would have phased out the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and tax credits for purchasing insurance on marketplaces over a 2-year period while doing nothing to replace lost coverage. This is widely expected to be their template for 2017.

While Speaker Ryan is unlikely to win White House support for his proposal to voucherize Medicare, he is likely to win Trump’s blessing for deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) and to Medicaid—with devastating consequences for women.
 

In June, we highlighted Ryan’s plan to not only eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion but also to slash the federal investment in traditional Medicaid. Under Ryan’s plan, states would be given the choice between a per capita cap on funds or a block grant. In either case, states would be stuck with 100% of the costs above the capped amount. As with Ryan’s Medicare voucher, both the cap and the block grant would be designed to lose significant value over time, saving the federal government money by shifting costs onto the most vulnerable.
 

The Ryan outline would also eliminate current federal rules that require states to cover poor children and pregnant women. Instead, the states would determine which groups to cover, would be free to impose harmful work requirements and charge premiums (read our brief to learn more about how these provisions impact women), and could establish enrollment caps and waiting lists. Many of these changes could be rolled into the same reconciliation bill repealing the ACA.
 
At the same time, the continued existence of the filibuster shouldn’t be assumed. As long-time Senate watchers know, only 51 votes are required to change Senate rules on the first day of the legislative session—and the “first day” can be extended through many calendar days. During the campaign, several prominent Republican senators and high-profile conservative think tanks argued for leaving the ninth Supreme Court seat unfilled during the entirety of a Clinton administration—a once-unthinkable departure from Senate norms and precedent. Following an election in which so many norms were violated, we shouldn’t take any for granted.
 
—Analysis by Sarah Christopherson, Policy Advocacy Director for the National Women’s Health Network
 
So what can you do?

 

 Now, more than ever, your voice is needed to highlight the real-world consequences of these actions. The true impact of repealing the ACA and gutting the social safety net has long been ignored by media outlets that knew Republicans couldn’t enact their proposals. Now they can. Join us in raising women’s voices to speak loud and clearly in opposition.   

Emily Brostek, Executive Director for RWV’s regional coordinator in Maine, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, reminds us:
 
“If you are hearing from consumers who are worried about what will happen to their coverage in the future, encourage them to contact their elected officials—both at the state and national level—to share what affordable health care means to them and their families. And people should also continue to sign up for health coverage through HealthCare.gov to get affordable health care. The ACA is still the law of the land.”
 
And we are going to fight to keep it!

 

Tuesday
Nov012016

Open Enrollment 4 starts today, with new challenges

Today is the start of the fourth open enrollment period since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance marketplaces first opened in the fall of 2013. To date, we’ve seen a great deal of success, with approximately 12.7 million people enrolling in private ACA marketplace plans and more than 14 million qualifying for expanded Medicaid and CHIP coverage.
 
Despite the historic reduction in the number of uninsured people in our country, there are an estimated 11.7 million people who are eligible for coverage, but currently uninsured. Many of these uninsured people are the women, LGBTQ people and families for whom Raising Women’s Voices advocates. We and our regional coordinators around the country will be working hard to reach and enroll these still-uninsured people during Open Enrollment Period 4.
 
What are the challenges we face this year? News coverage of premium rate increases is certainly one of them. Insurers offering health plans in the ACA marketplaces have received approval for significant rate hikes in a number of states. Also troubling have been reports that some insurance companies have dropped out of the ACA marketplaces. This kind of news could discourage some still-uninsured people from applying for coverage.
 
In fact, most people applying for coverage will still qualify for premium subsidies, which will go up to offset the increased premiums. So, the overall cost to most enrollees will not be substantially higher. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that 85 percent of current Marketplace health enrollees receive premium subsidies, in the form of tax credits, to reduce the cost of their health care coverage. The percentage of new applicants who would qualify for the premium subsidies is expected to be about the same.
 
To counter some of the recent negative news, HHS has predicted that 72 percent of people applying for coverage using the HealthCare.gov federally-run insurance marketplace will be able to find a plan for $75 or less in premiums per month, and that enrollees will be able choose, on average, among 30 plans.
 
What advice can we offer still-uninsured people worried about premium rates? Consumer health advocates recommend comparing prices, just as you would with any other big purchase. “’Go shopping,” said  Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President for Health Initiatives with the Community Service Society in New York. “You may be eligible for more financial help than you think.”
 
What can we tell current enrollees trying to decide if they can afford to renew their coverage for 2017? HHS suggests that switching plans can provide enrollees with significant savings on their premiums. “If all consumers switched from their current plan to the lowest premium plan in the same metal level, the average 2017 Marketplace premium, after tax credits, would be $28 per month less than the average 2016 Marketplace premium after tax credits – a 20 percent reduction,” HHS reports. Enrollees should also be sure to check their eligibility for Medicaid and, in New York, for the new low-cost Essential Plan, which has premiums of no more than $20 a month, and no deductible.
 
Open Enrollment Period 4 will run through January 31, 2017. You must enroll in a plan by December 15 in order to qualify for coverage that goes into effect January 1, 2017. While there are a number of ways to sign up for coverage, including online and over the phone, the easiest way for many people may be meeting with a trained “navigator” who can help you weigh your options and enroll in a plan that is right for you.
 
RWV regional coordinators will be doing their part. For example, the Lesbian Health Initiative in Houston, TX, is offering free in-person enrollment help during its fall health fair this coming Saturday morning, Nov. 5. Enroll Michigan has several enrollment events taking place around the state today and tomorrow. To locate a navigator in your area, you can enter your zip code into HealthCare.gov, where you can also browse through 2017 plans and prices.
 
Raising Women’s Voices at APHA Conference
 

Raising Women’s Voices Co-founders Byllye Avery, Cindy Pearson and Lois Uttley have been busy at the American Public Health Association conference underway this week in Denver, Colorado. The three have been staffing a booth in the giant Exhibit Hall being visited by more than 12,000 conference attendees. In photo above, Avery (second from left) and Pearson (second from right) talk to visitors at the exhibit booth.
 
RWV health insurance literacy materials have been a big hit at the APHA conference! For this Open Enrollment Period, RWV is offering copies of two one-page fact sheets – 5 Steps to Getting Started Using Your Health Insurance, and 4 Costs You May Have to Pay – which are available in both English and Spanish. These fact sheets are designed for newly-insured people who may not be familiar with how to use health insurance effectively and may not understand about premiums, deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance. We also have available copies of our popular Personal Health Journal. Check out these materials on our website, www.MyHealthMyVoice.com.
 
On Monday, the three RWV co-founders were joined by RWV Colorado Regional Coordinator Cynthia Negron of COLOR, a Denver-based organization of Latinas advocating for reproductive justice. She is at far left in the photo, next to Cindy Pearson, Byllye Avery and Lois Uttley, as they prepared to give a panel presentation on what is ahead for the ACA in 2017. They described the need to build on ACA accomplishments for women’s health and LGBTQ health in the years ahead, while working to improve affordability, continue to expand Medicaid in new states and extend coverage to those immigrants currently ineligible for ACA coverage.