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RWVoices

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! 

 

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.
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