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RWVoices

Thursday
Jan262017

Keeping up momentum from the marches!

Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators across the country were marching and speaking out against repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and for women’s health last weekend. What’s next for Congress, Trump and us? We’re working to keep the momentum going, and use it to strongly oppose any repeal of the ACA without a replacement plan that covers at least the same number of people with the same quality health insurance at an affordable price. Below, we provide a summary of what’s going on in Congress this week, and what you can do. But first, here’s a roundup of our women’s march activities.

 
Dizzy Warren of Enroll Michigan (the RWV coordinator in that state, pictured at right) spoke at the march in Lansing about the positive impact the ACA has had on people in Michigan. “I have seen the impact of the ACA on the people who walk through our doors…and the doors of our partner organizations throughout the state,” she told the crowd. She described the devastating consequences ACA repeal would have on Michigan women, LGBTQ people and families.
 
WV FREE participated in both the DC march and their local march in Charleston, WV. Nearly 3,000 showed up for the march in Charleston, where their Director for Reproductive Health Access, Anduwyn Williams, led the Charleston crowd in a mindfulness exercise. WV Free also did tabling at the march, and over the last two weeks, has patched through more than 130 calls to U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, opposing ACA repeal without a solid replacement.  Capito is now one of the co-sponsors of the Cassidy-Collins bill that is being promoted as a Republican moderate alternative to repealing the ACA without a replacement. Below, you can read our full assessment of this proposal, which we think is unworkable in actual practice, and unlikely to move forward in the Senate.
  
The National Women’s Health Network team represented RWV in the Washington, D.C., march. NWHN’s Sarah Christopherson spotted Virginia Governor Terry McAufliffe (pictured together at right) and took advantage of the opportunity to talk to him about his support for Medicaid expansion. The Governor responded enthusiastically to Sarah’s advocacy, and told us “I’m really committed to expanding Medicaid in Virginia.  Virginia has lost nearly $8 billion by not expanding!” Sarah, Cindy Pearson and the rest of the NWHN team spent the rest of the day demonstrating their support for the ACA. 
 
Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), RWV’s Colorado regional coordinator, participated in the Women’s March on Denver. COLOR's Executive Director, Cristina Aguilar, was a featured speaker, telling the crowd” "We are marching so that we can control our birthing options, choose our sexual partners, determine and express our own gender and create the relationships and families that we choose and the healthy, empowered sex lives that we want.”

The Afiya Center had an especially busy weekend, participating in not only the Women’s March on Dallas, but also in a Roe v. Wade anniversary event called Our Bodies, Our Lives, as well as in a press conference and a rally and phone bank. Marsha Jones of the Afiya Center is shown in march photo at left (she’s at center, wearing a white t-shirt). Laura Jimenez, the Executive Director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), spoke at the march in Los Angeles.  NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts marched in Boston.
 
Raising Women’s Voices-NY was marching in New York City, where a crowd estimated at 400,000 people turned out, overwhelming organizers and bringing mid-town to a standstill. Carrying the RWV banner were Amy Zarin, lead author of our health insurance literacy staffer (right in photo) and her friend, Samantha Garbus, left, with help from Jessica Quistorff, center, a former intern.
 
RWV-NY Outreach and engagement coordinator Cindi Azuogu, shown at left, used her sign to send a message about how the ACA has given women contraceptive coverage without co-pays. That message turned out to be timely in New York, where Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday the filing of a proposed regulation that would enshrine birth control coverage without co-pays in New York policy. RWV Co-founder Lois Uttley was quoted in the Governor’s press release: “Today’s action by the Cuomo administration will ensure that New York women can get the contraceptive coverage they need, no matter what happens at the federal level.” A second proposed rule announced Saturday would require coverage of medically-necessary abortions without co-pays or deductibles.
 
Hannah Rosenau, Program Director for the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health (OFRH) sounded a similar theme about enacting protection at the state level when she spoke at a post-march benefit dance party in Portland: “We’re Oregon and we’re not only to going not accept cuts (at the federal level)…we’re going to move some proactive legislation to ensure all Oregonians will still have their birth control at no cost, can afford abortion care and won’t face discrimination when accessing reproductive health care!”
  
RWV Co-founder Byllye Avery (shown at right in photo) spoke at the march and rally in her hometown ofProvincetown, MA, telling the crowd: “We are fighting for our health care and our rights. Everything we consider a ‘right’ they consider a ‘wrong.” Ngina Lythcott (left in photo) said, “Remember that health care is a human right.  It is important for each of us, especially within our own demographic groups, to engage in conversations about progressive ideas (story telling is most effective) with people across class-lines.”
 
Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA) participated in two women’s marches. NoHLA's Executive Director, Janet Varon, and others marched in Seattle, WA, while NoHLA Staff Attorney Huma Zarif participated in the march in nearby Portland, OR.
 
RWV regional coordinator Cherisse Scott of SisterReach kept the momentum going on Monday when she spoke out at a press conference in Memphis, TN. “Right now,” she said, “we are dealing with a new administration that is more concerned with dismantling its predecessor's legacy than ensuring health care for every American." She and other activists called on local and state officials to support programs that help marginalized communities fight HIV and AIDS, gain access to birth control and abortions, seek accountability for police and earn livable wages.
 
On Tuesday, RWV Regional Field Manager Cecilia Saenz Becerra (shown in the center) spoke at a press conference and panel discussion in Atlanta entitled “Our Health, Our Rights” that was sponsored by a newly-formed GA Health Alliance for Refugee & Immigrant Communities coalition. She spoke about the benefits the ACA has had for women and immigrants, and what a repeal would mean, including the end of hopes for Medicaid expansion in Georgia. The event was covered by Spanish language media, including Mundo Hispanico and El Nuevo Georgia.

What’s next for Congress, Trump and us?

 
Republican members of Congress are retreating to Philadelphia this week for a pep talk with their new President, hoping to narrow the gulf between the ideological and pragmatic wings of the party. They will be met with more of the kind of protests they’ve been experiencing across the country, including a rally opposing the defunding of Planned Parenthood and another one Thursday morning, when the Save My Care bus tour stops in town.
 
As one of his first actions in office, Donald Trump signed a far-ranging Executive Order last Friday that could exacerbate the existing tensions within the Republican party. The new order directs the federal agencies responsible for implementing the ACA to waive wherever possible “any provision or requirement of the Act” that would impose any kind of “cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden” on anyone—from individuals and doctors to insurers and states.
 
Although provisions like the individual mandate would remain in the law, the administration could stop enforcing the law or grant such sweeping exemptions as to make it meaningless. De facto elimination of the mandate, as Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway has said Trump may do, could prompt both a quick exodus of insurance companies out of ACA markets and a hike in premiums, as the CBO noted last week. Meanwhile, conservatives opposed to the ACA’s consumer protections are hopeful that the order is a signal to insurance companies that they can drop key health benefits, ranging from maternity care to mental health care, without repercussions.

Pragmatic Republicans have already expressed nervousness that the administration is poised to sow chaos in skittish health insurance markets. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) cautioned, “I think that the executive order is very confusing, and that we really don’t know yet what the impact will be. We want to ensure that individuals relying on the current system do not experience a needless and avoidable gap in coverage.”
 
Collins joined several colleagues in introducing ACA replacement legislation this week that would require states wanting to keep the ACA to “re-implement” it, but with less money from the federal government to help low-income households get coverage. The bill has a number of practical failings that make it unworkable, but that’s almost beside the point. More importantly, the bill doesn’t go far enough in dismantling the ACA for hardline conservatives in the House and goes too far to appease the eight Democrats needed to pass replacement through the Senate.
 
That’s why advocates must continue to make clear that simply putting out a plan is not enough to let Senators off the hook to then vote for repeal. SEIU is continuing to offer a toll-free hotline (866-426-2631) for people to call their members of Congress. Their recommended message is this: No ACA repeal without a replacement that provides at least the same level of coverage and care, and no cuts to or restructuring of Medicaid. Repeal without a simultaneous replacement is just repeal.

Thursday
Jan192017

We’re rallying and marching to save our health care!

 
RWV regional coordinators and our allies have been out at rallies, press conferences and other events across the country to send a strong message to Congress: Save our health care!

On Wednesday, Cindi Azuogu and Ann Danforth (pictured above) of Raising Women’s Voices-NY participated in a rally at New York City Hall as a national Save the ACA Bus tour arrived. Cindi spoke for us: “As we see it, women are facing a double hit if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act and also defunds Planned Parenthood. We could lose coverage for contraception and other women’s preventive services without co-pays. We could lose guaranteed coverage for maternity care and protection against sex discrimination in health care. If women lose coverage entirely because the ACA is repealed, Planned Parenthood could be overwhelmed with uninsured patients and strapped for funding. We must fight to protect our care!”

CBO report and Price hearing show why
we worry about losing our coverage


Congress’s official scorekeeper just dropped a bomb squarely into the middle of Republicans’ plans to ram through a repeal of the ACA, a process they began last week. They had promised that by delaying certain parts of repeal until they had a replacement plan ready, they could avoid immediately ripping coverage away from millions of Americans. But the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), led by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan’s handpicked director, said this week that that strategy would result in 18 million people losing their insurance in the first full plan year after enactment, 32 million losing their insurance by 2026, and skyrocketing premiums in the marketplaces.
 
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), had the first of two confirmation hearings yesterday. Questioning of Price by Senate Democrats provided insight into Republicans’ impossible predicament on ACA repeal. Price dodged questions about whether children would be allowed to stay on their parents’ health plans through age 26, refused to say whether he supports Trump’s proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and sidestepped direct questions about cuts to Medicaid and Medicare.
 

When questioned about Trump’s statement "We're going to have insurance for everybody," Price gave the most telling answer of the day: “I think it is imperative we have a system in place that … allows for every single American to have the opportunity to gain access for the coverage they want.” The “opportunity” to “gain access” someday (and at what price to the individual?) is very different from the ACA’s achievement of significantly increasing coverage. We’ve written about Price’s extreme views before, but the hearing made clear the differences between the incoming president, some of his own cabinet nominees, Congressional Republicans, and what a majority of Americans have repeatedly said they want.
 
The heat is on more moderate Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who were already concerned about the idea of passing a repeal bill before a replacement plan can be passed simultaneously. In Collins’ home state over the weekend, RWV regional coordinator Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC) participated in a rally at City Hall in Portland, organized by U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. “Before the Affordable Care Act, too many Mainers had to gamble that they stay healthy and out of debt by going without insurance. We can’t ask Maine people to put their health on the line to cover Congress’s reckless bets,” said Emily Brostek, CAHC Executive Director. “We urge Congress to let common sense prevail and reject any effort to repeal the ACA that does not include a strong, viable replacement.”
 
Collins is set to introduce a proposed replacement plan on Monday that underscores just how complicated Republicans’ path forward will be. House co-lead on the bill, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), promised that under their plan, “each state could opt to stay in Obamacare,” and Collins assured that the funding would remain the same. But we saw what happened when states got the option of whether or not to expand Medicaid, and we would fight any proposal to take coverage guarantees away from women and families because they live on the wrong side of a state border. But that’s not the biggest stumbling block to proposals like these.

So what is? A majority of Republicans in Congress want to see the ACA’s funding repealed as soon as possible, which would gut Collins’ proposal. Arguably one of the biggest drivers behind ACA repeal is that it will provide a massive tax cut to the wealthiest households in America. That’s one big reason why Republicans like Tom Price and Paul Ryan have consistently called for “access” to purchase insurance and not “guaranteed coverage.” Actually ensuring coverage to millions of Americans is expensive, and conservatives have balked at paying for it. Most Democrats won’t vote for a plan that moves backward, while many Republicans won’t vote for a plan that spends as much as the ACA does on coverage.
 
We’re rallying around the country

We’re working with allies to make visible our fight to save our health care, through rallies and other events around the country. In Portland, Oregon, Hannah Rosenau, pictured at left, of the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health was at a rally on Sunday. About 2,000 people rallied with U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley.

In Houston, TX, Aurora Harris of the Lesbian Health Initiative participated in a rally with her Congresswoman, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. They are shown in the photo at right (Harris at left and Lee at right). 

Sarah Howell of Montana Women Vote spoke at a rally in Missoula on Sunday: “Over the past five years, we’ve come a long way from the dark days of 2012. But if the ACA is repealed, we’re going to turn around and shoot back into those dark days real fast. And we’re going to go much further back.” She was quoted in the Missoula Current.

In Maryland, Consumer Health
First was represented at a rally to save the ACA. Pictured in photo at left are CHF Executive Director Jeananne Sciabarra (left) and founder Leni Preston (right) with U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.

 

 

On Saturday, we will march for women’s health!

Raising Women’s Voices will be represented by one of our co-founding organizations, the National Women’s Health Network, in the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. on Saturday. “The Women’s March has grown to encompass 340 sister marches and 30 international marches,” said National March co-chair Carmen Perez in a conference call yesterday. “We’re not only anticipating a large crowd in Washington, DC, we expect that there will be one million people marching around the globe.”  


RWV co-founder and NWHN Executive Director Cindy Pearson says, “It’s no fun being in DC for the inauguration, but we’re really looking forward to this March. We’ll be there will our signs and posters, speaking up for the ACA and women’s health.” The March will start off with a rally with speakers and performers. The actual March will take supporters down Independence and Constitution Avenues, past the Washington Monument, and culminate near the White House, on The Ellipse. We don’t know if the new President is planning to spend his first weekend in the White House, but we do know wherever he’ll be on Saturday, he won’t be able to miss the message – women’s rights are human rights!
 
In President-elect Donald Trump’s hometown of New York City, Raising Women’s Voices-NY will be in the lead contingent of the Women’s March on NYC, which will go from the United Nations to Trump Tower. RWV-NY is partnering with the Reproductive Health Access Project to host a pre-march sign making
party. Elsewhere in the country, the RWV regional coordinator in Michigan, Dizzy Warren of Enroll Michigan, will be speaking at a march in her home state and the Executive Director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), Laura Jimenez, will be speaking at the march in Los Angeles.
 
The Afiya Center will be participating in the Dallas march and the Feminist Women’s Health Center will be marching in Atlanta. Montana Women Vote will be marching at the state capitol in Missoula. WV Free will be tabling at their local march in West Virginia, and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts will be marching in Boston. In Portland, Oregon, OFRH is hosting a prep and poster making
party at their office, where OFRH will provide information to volunteers about the risks to women’s health posed by the new administration and the repeal of the ACA. Hannah Rosenau, OFRH’s Program Director, will also be speaking at a post-march benefit dance party about the need for state level protections like Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act.
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.

 

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