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 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.