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.
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.
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.