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RWVoices

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What’s at stake for women if the ACA is repealed?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What’s at stake for women if the ACA is repealed?

That’s why we are launching a social media campaign today to explain what’s at stake for women if the ACA is repealed.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.
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.

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