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Friday
Sep142018

New Black Women’s Health Policy Agenda!

Black Women’s Health Policy Agenda to be released today

The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) is releasing Black Women Vote: The 2018 National Health Policy Agenda today at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference. The agenda includes policy positions and recommendations, as well as a feature that will be especially useful during this fall’s election season: a two-page, fill-in report card for voters to assess candidates’ policy positions on key health issues related to Black women.

“We are excited to release this first-of-its-kind policy agenda, which offers our nation a framework for addressing health inequities for Black women and girls," said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of BWHI. "We want to provide voters with a way to assess candidates for office at all levels on issues that are important to Black women, such as ensuring access to quality health care and protecting an individual’s right to make personal decisions about reproductive health.”

BWHI, which is one of the three national Raising Women’s Voices coordinating organizations, produced the agenda with support from Planned Parenthood, In Our Own Voice, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, U.S. Senator Doug Jones and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly.  The agenda will be unveiled at Rep. Kelly’s panel, “CBCF Health Braintrust: Truth and Reconciliation in Health,” and Rep. Danny K. Davis’ CBCF-ALC Community Health Centers’ panel entitled "Breaking Down Barriers and Closing the Health Care Gap for Black Women."

The agenda includes in-depth policy positions and recommendations under four main pillars: Access to Quality and Affordable Healthcare, Equitable Responses to Public Health Emergencies, Sufficient Diversity in Clinical Research, and Increased Funding to Support HBCUs (historically-black colleges and universities). The first pillar asserts that Black women’s health outcomes depend on the accessibility, availability and affordability of quality health care. Access to quality, affordable care will allow health care providers to detect and treat health issues more effectively in Black women, which can potentially lead to a reduction and, hopefully, elimination of health disparities impacting Black women.

BWHI seeks to generate and leverage evidence that strongly supports the prioritization of the following policy and community-level issues for Black women and girls: the preservation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including meaningful and affordable insurance coverage; strengthening of Medicaid and protection of Medicare; patient access to affordable prescriptions; access to high quality maternal health resources; reproductive health, rights and justice (Title X, access to affordable contraception, access to safe, legal abortion, comprehensive sex education, access to care for endometriosis and uterine fibroids); access to cancer prevention, screening and treatment services (for breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer); improved cardiovascular health; and education and advocacy for preventive and diagnostic resources (for diabetes, HIV/AIDS, sickle cell anemia and mental health).

You can download Black Women Vote: The 2018 National Health Policy Agenda for free on the Imperative’s website, bwhi.org, starting today. Any questions and comments on the agenda should be directed to the BWHI Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Tammy Boyd (tboyd@bwhi.org).
 
What’s the latest on the SCOTUS nomination?
 
On Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously blocked Democratic efforts to access documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that the White House has kept hidden. Even though Kavanaugh has signaled that he would protect the president from investigation, two of Donald Trump’s most vocal Republican critics, Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), joined the party-line vote in committee.
 
Meanwhile, the Senate’s lone Republicans who profess to be supportive of abortion rights -- Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) -- have indicated they are likely to support the nomination, claiming that Kavanaugh won’t be the deciding SCOTUS vote to gut reproductive rights. Several Senate Democratic conservatives -- including Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) -- have been vocal about their support of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but they have thus far refused to say how they will vote on Kavanaugh, despite his clear hostility to the ACA.
 
The Senate Judiciary committee will vote on Kavanaugh next Thursday morning, September 20, teeing up a vote by the full Senate during the week of September 24. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will join the Court before its new session begins October 1. 
 
On Monday, September 17, disabled women from across the country will come together to fight for the right to control their own bodies, live in their own homes and the keep their health care. Non-disabled allies are welcome to join as supporters. The group will be using the hashtags #SaveRoe #HomesNotInstitutions #DisabledWomenResist #CancelKavanaugh. On Thursday, the Save SCOTUS coalition will be lining the halls outside of the Judiciary Committee hearing room to demand senators #StopKavanaugh. (Please note NO signs are allowed inside the building.)
 
And, of course, it’s absolutely critical to keep up a drumbeat of calls in senators’ offices. You can reach Senators by calling 202-224-3121.
 
Renewed GOP threats to repeal the ACA!
 
Republicans have made clear that if they retain control of Congress after the mid-term elections, they will make another attempt to repeal the ACA and gut Medicaid.This week, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise told the Fox Business Network, "We’ve got to hold the House, but if we get more Senate seats, which I think we will, we’ve got to go back to health care. Obamacare’s only getting worse. … And [we’ll] transform Medicaid, which is the most failed part of health care."
 
Scalise, you may recall, was seriously wounded by a gunman last year and recovered with the help of his government-funded health care through the ACA. In his home state of Louisiana, 473,900 people gained coverage through Medicaid expansion, driving down the state’s uninsured rate from one out of every four people to one of out of nine.
 
Vice President Mike Pence told a campaign rally in August that, “We made an effort to fully repeal and replace Obamacare. And we’ll continue. With [Republicans in the Senate], we’ll go back to that.” And Axios quoted a “senior GOP aide” as saying Republicans won’t describe their next attack on health care as “a cutting Medicaid exercise.” Rather, he argued, describe it as “a 'screw the blue states' exercise and block grant to states.”  Two Republican Senate candidates running against ACA supporters are attorneys general pushing the court to revoke the ACA’s protections for preexisting conditions.
 
The Protect Our Care Coalition is launching a nationwide bus tour this fall to hold repeal-and-sabotage Republicans accountable. Kicking off in Portland, Maine, on September 24, the bus (“Care Force One”) will make 48 stops across 23 states, covering a total of 11,303 miles. The bus tour schedule is available online, along with ways to get involved. Check it out and meet the bus when it comes to your state!

 

Thursday
Sep062018

SCOTUS nominee a threat to ACA protections, Roe v. Wade!

Kavanaugh won’t promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions

Our concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s views on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Roe v. Wade deepened this week as Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court got underway.

Kavanaugh’s responses to senators’ questions on Wednesday appeared to confirm fears that he would pose a threat to our health care, if confirmed. Kavanaugh told Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that he can provide “no assurance” that he would uphold requirements thathealth insurers provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. He later declined to give an answer to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on whether or not he believes President Trump (who nominated him) should have the executive power to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

What about his views on Roe v. Wade?

Kavanaugh remained vague and noncommittal when questioned Wednesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about his views on Roe v. Wade, saying no more than that the ruling is “settled as a precedent” and “has been affirmed many times in the past 45 years.” Feinstein tweeted out this response:
Feinstein’s skepticism seemed to be validated this morning, when the New York Times published leaked emails that Kavanaugh had sent when he was a White House lawyer in the Bush administration. One of them, from 2003, said this: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent.” Kavanaugh’s answers were troubling, but no surprise, as he has taken a regressive stance in cases involving health care and women’s reproductive rights. Just last year, he voted against assuring that an undocumented teenage immigrant could obtain a timely abortion.
 
During the hearings, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) reminded the committee what’s at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination: “We’re talking about the impact of one individual on… whether a woman with breast cancer can afford health care or is forced off life-saving treatment; whether a gay or transgender worker is treated with dignity, or treated as second-class citizen; whether a young woman who got pregnant at 15 is forced to give birth or, in desperation, go to a back alley for an abortion.”

Sen. Maizie Hirono (D-HI) said Kavanaugh was hand-picked by Trump’s ultra-conservative advisors to act as the “decisive fifth vote” on a Supreme Court that currently consists of four Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees. “It could take just one vote on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and deny women control over their reproductive rights… [and] to declare the ACA pre-existing conditions protections unconstitutional,” she said.

Such a court decision would have devastating consequences for the estimated 130 million people across the country, including 67 million women and girls, who have pre-existing conditions.Without the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions, people could be denied health insurance coverage or charged higher premiums simply because of their health status. Unsurprisingly, a new Kaiser poll finds that the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing are overwhelmingly popular with the public, with 90% saying they want the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections to remain law.

The hearings on Trump’s SCOTUS nominee continue today, and a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee is planned for later this month. If you care about protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Roe v. Wade or contraceptive coverage, listen carefully to Kavanaugh’s answers to Senators’ questions. Then use this link to let your Senator know how concerned you are about what Kavanaugh could mean for people with pre-existing condtions and for women’s reproductive health.

How are we speaking out about these threats?

Leading up to this week’s SCOTUS hearings in the Senate, advocates across the country have been speaking out about the threat his confirmation could pose to the ACA, Medicaid, and Roe v. Wade. As part of the Unite for Justice Day of ActionNorthwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA), our Seattle-based regional coordinator, participated in their local rally at Westlake Park.

Janet Varon, NoHLA’s Executive Director (pictured at left), attended the rally to highlight the rights at stake for NoHLA’s constituencies, including Roe v. Wade, voting rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights and immigrant rights.

In Washington, D.C., RWV co-founder Cindy Pearson joined women leaders from across progressive movements at the Senate Hart Atrium for the “I’m What’s At Stake Vigil,” where women shared their personal stories about why they’re in this fight and what the threat of Kavanaugh’s confirmation means to them personally. 
Texas lawsuit threats pre-existing condition protections

As we continue to follow the Senate hearings, we’re also closely watching a lawsuit attempting to strike down the ACA as unconstitutional. On Wednesday, a Texas district court judge heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by a group of conservative state Attorneys General who are seeking to overturn the ACA on the grounds that the federal tax cut bill enacted last year repealed the ACA’s individual mandate to have health insurance. Legal experts believe this lawsuit is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court, and that Kavanaugh, if confirmed, could tip the balance of the Court to rule against the ACA and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

Advocates in West Virginia, including staff from our Charleston-based RC, WV FREE (pictured), came together at a press conference to highlight how West Virginians with pre-existing conditions could be harmed by the lawsuit. At stake  is the fate of 737,900 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions, who could lose their health insurance without these protections. The press conference was held at Charleston’s Recovery Point, a treatment center for women with substance use disorders. Speakers discussed what life was like before the ACA, when insurance companies could deny coverage to people with a history of substance abuse or mental illness, as well as the role Medicaid expansion played in increasing access to treatment for West Virginians with substance use disorders. 

 

Thursday
Aug302018

Get ready for post-Labor Day advocacy!

Next week’s a big week for protecting women’s health!
 
We all deserve a little rest and relaxation over the long Labor Day weekend. We’ve had a busy year so far protecting women’s health from an onslaught of attacks by the Trump administration and GOP leaders in Congress.  Raising Women’s Voices wants to thank you for all you’ve done this year!
 
But we also want to make sure you’re prepped and ready to go after the holiday, because we are going to have a busy week ahead.  The U.S. Senate will open three days of hearings on Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, September 4.  The following day, September 5, a Texas district court judge will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit attempting to strike down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as unconstitutional. What will these events mean for women’s health, and what can you do?
 
The ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are at stake in both the Texas court hearing and the SCOTUS nomination.  An estimated 130 million people across the country, including 67 million women and girls, live with pre-existing conditions. If these protections are repealed, millions could face the possibility of being denied health insurance coverage or charged higher premiums. (The loss of the ACA would also take us back to a time when insurers could charge women more than men.)
 
The lawsuit, filed by a group of conservative state Attorneys General, seeks to overturn the ACA because the federal tax cut bill enacted last year knocked out the ACA’s individual mandate to have health insurance.  In response to the lawsuit, the Trump administrationhas refused to defend the ACA.  Fortunately, 17 Attorneys General from more progressive states have intervened in the lawsuit to defend the ACA and Democrats in the Senate and House have filed resolutions that would give House and Senate legal counsel the authority to intervene in the lawsuit. If the lawsuit works its way through the levels of federal courts and up to the Supreme Court, the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the court could tip the balance against the ACA.
 
To highlight what’s at stake for people with pre-existing conditions, RWV co-sponsored a successful Twitter Chat last week with Community Catalyst, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, American Heart Association, Little Lobbyists, Families USA, Protect Our Care and SEIU.  Many of our RWV regional coordinators also participated, including California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, COLOR, EverThrive IL, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Consumer Health First, Northwest Health Law Advocates, and WVFREE. Our chat quickly reached a wide audience and our hashtag #130MillionStrong was trending in the top 10 nationally. We were even joined by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and the First Lady of NYC, Chirlane McCray. Many health care consumers also shared their personal stories about why protections for people with pre-existing conditions matter to them and their loved ones. 
 
We urge you to keep spreading the word about the importance of protecting coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Using social media, share stories of how you or family members with pre-existing conditions have been able to get health coverage because of the ACA. Tweet at your members of Congress asking them to protect people with pre-existing conditions and defend the ACA. Community Catalyst has an easy-to-use action page that can help you compose your tweet and get it to the correct members of Congress.  Submit a letter to the editor or an op-ed to your local newspaper using a sample op-ed available here.
 
If you are in a state where the Attorney General has joined the lawsuit to overturn the ACA, consider organizing a protest event in front of your AG’s office using this Advocacy Guide from Community Catalyst. The states are Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Women across the country unite to save SCOTUS!
 
Advocates in all 50 states participated in more than 200 events across the country on Women’s Equality Day this past Sunday to warn that the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could turn the balance of the court against women’s reproductive rights and produce a ruling to undermine or repeal Roe v. Wade. Organizers said the Unite for Justice Day of Action was the largest single-day action against a Supreme Court nominee in the country’s history.  RWV and our regional coordinators promoted and participated in local events in CO, GA, MA, ME, NJ, NM, NY, OR, TX, WA and WV to highlight the dire threat Kavanaugh could pose to the ACA, Medicaid andRoe v. Wade.

Raising Women’s Voices-NY (pictured) joined a rally in downtown Manhattan, where we heard from speakers who highlighted what’s at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination. Alyssa Mastromonaco, former Obama staffer who just joined NARAL Pro-Choice America, explained: “We are the last line of defense for the 93 million women in America who need family planning, affordable health care, and access to safe and legal abortions.” New York activist Therese Patricia Okoumou, best known for climbing the Statue of Liberty on the fourth of July to protest the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families, spoke about the inextricable link between reproductive rights and immigrant rights
 
Both our Charleston-based coordinator, WV FREE, and our Portland-base coordinator, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, joined the national conversation via Tweet Storm. NARAL Oregon encouraged participants to take it local by using the hashtag #ORDissents to highlight why opposing Kavanaugh means protecting Oregonians and their ability to access abortion.
 
The Afiya Center, our Dallas-based regional coordinator, hosted a community conversation to discuss the impact of the SCOTUS nomination and how it will impact the lives of Black women and the larger Black community. Marsha Jones, Executive Directorand Deneen Robinson, Program Director (pictured at right), also discussed abortion rights and the importance of keeping Roe v. Wade.  
 
Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), our coordinator in Denver, was one of the many groups to participate in the national Reproductive Justice Day of Action on SCOTUS. Women of color took action on the Hill and across the country to make their voices heard on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
 
COLOR joined in these efforts locally by taking action in Denver at Senator Cory Gardner's and Senator Michael Bennet’s district offices. Advocates Kylie Dennis and Maria Ignacia Miranda Santis (pictured at right) met with Senator Bennet’s staff to share their concerns about Kavanaugh’s stances on abortion access, immigrant justice, and LGBTQ liberation.
 
What’s next in the SCOTUS fight? We need to continue to stay loud, particularly as we head into next week, when Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings begin in the Senate. What can you do? Reach out to your Senators, and let them why you think that Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, would turn the balance of the Supreme Court against the rights of women and LGBTQ people. Use this Take Action page to reach your Senators.
 
Meet our new regional coordinator in the South!
 
We would like to welcome the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable to the RWV regional coordinator network. Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR), is an intergenerational civic engagement statewide network and the women and girls empowerment arm of the of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) that champions equitable public policy on behalf of Black women and girls nationally and across the South. The Mississippi effort is led by co-convenors Cassandra Welchlin & Debra Robinson.

BWR is a highly effective economic and social justice organizing network led by Black women across the country, with a focus on expanding inter-generational leadership and addressing economic insecurity, education and health disparities that perpetuate systemic, multi-generational poverty for too many Black women, families and communities.

 

Wednesday
Aug222018

What’s at stake? Women’s health!

#WhatsAtStake? Women’s Health! 

It’s a busy week of action for women’s health advocates, with press conferences, social media actions, town hall meetings, forums and rallies taking place across the country:
  • Raising Women’s Voices joined other women’s health groups Tuesday in a #PreExAtStake day of action – part of a national Women’s Week of Action to call attention to what’s at stake with the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. 
  • Tomorrow from 2 to 3 p.m., we will co-host a #130MillionStrong Twitter chat designed to explain how the 130 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions are threatened by the Kavanaugh nomination, a pending lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that could make its way to the Supreme Court and by new “junk” health insurance plans that can exclude the coverage we need.
  • This week is also Reproductive Justice Week of Action, organized by Black women’s organizations, including RWV’s partner, the Black Women’s Health Imperative.
  • And on Sunday, NARAL ProChoice America, MoveOn and more than 30 other organizations are calling for a national day of action, “Unite for Justice,” to oppose the Kavanaugh nomination.
Need a guide to the action, and how you can get involved? Read on!
 
 

Female Senators Join Women’s Week of Action 

We were there for a press conference in Washington Tuesday at which U.S Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York discussed why the Kavanaugh nomination threatens access to affordable health care, especially for women of color. 

A lawsuit led by Texas and 19 other Republican-led states to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could make its way to theSupreme Court. Confirming Kavanaugh to the court could mean a ruling that sends us back to pre-ACA times when women were routinely charged higher premiums or denied coverage for things like seeking treatment for domestic or sexual violence, having a cesarean section birth or being pregnant.
 
“Imagine how many women would have to choose between paying for the care that they need or paying their rent if Kavanaugh gets on the court and slashes these protections. We cannot let that become a reality,” said Sen. Duckworth, shown at the microphone. Eliminating key health care protections could put the more than 67 million women and girls with pre-existing conditions at risk. 
 
After the press conference, we dropped off letters voicing strong opposition to the confirmation of Kavanaugh at the offices of Senators whose votes on the nomination are considered key. These include Susan Collins of Maine, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IndianaHeidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Doug Jones of Alabama. 
 
We kept the action going by joining in a #PreExAtStake Twitter storm on social media. Today (Wednesday, August 22), there will be a Women United Will #StopKavanaughevent in front of the Supreme Court from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and accompanying activity on social media, using the hashtag #StopKavanaugh.
 
Join us for more social media action on Thursday!
 
 
You can join the social media action tomorrow (Thursday) from 2 to 3 p.m. when Raising Women’s Voices will co-host a #130MillionStrong Twitter chat about what’s at stake for the 130 million people with pre-existing conditions. We’ll be discussing the protections that people with pre-existing conditions gained from the ACA and how those are threatened by the Texas lawsuit, the SCOTUS nomination and the new  short-term “junk” health plans that will soon come on to the market.
 
Reproductive Justice Week of Action Is Underway!
 
In Our Own Voice is incredibly excited to work alongside its strategic partners, including the Black Women’s Health Imperative, for Reproductive Justice Week of Action (RJWOA) from August 20th - 26! Black women leaders hosted in-state congressional visits on Tuesday, August 21, and will lead a national Twitter chat today (Wednesday) from 1pm-2 pm to highlight their work and that of their partners. Follow them, and join in, by using the hashtag #BlackWomensRJ.
 
Each of the partner organizations will host unique events, such as town halls and community forums. The goal is to bring together community activists, state legislative champions and community members to celebrate our accomplishments and discuss pressing reproductive justice issues. The Black Women’s Health Imperative will release an op-ed during RJWOA discussing Black maternal health, participate in the national twitter chat, host American University students on Thursday, August 23, for a half day of RJ and policy 101 and support other actions.
 
In Our Own Voice is also sponsoring many RJ week of action events across the country including our Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators in Louisiana,Women With a Vision; Texas, The Afiya Center; Tennessee, SisterReach; and Pennsylvania, New Voices Pittsburgh.
 
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, in partnership with All* Above All, Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE), National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, In Our Own Voice: Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, National LGBTQ Task Force and allies are also planning Fight for Reproductive Justice - #StopKavanaugh Day of Action on August 23rd to voice opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Reproductive Justice Week of Action ends on Sunday, August 26, which is also Women’s Equality Day. Partners will host or participate in events around the power of the Black woman’s vote or the ongoing #SaveSCOTUS fight.

 
On Sunday, August 26, Unite for Justice! 

Get out your megaphones and prepare your signs for Sunday, when there will be rallies in cities across the country as part of a National Day of Action opposing the SCOTUS nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. The activities are being organized by NARAL Prochoice America, MoveOn and other organizations. Our RWV regional coordinators across the country are promoting and participating in their local rallies, where they’ll highlight the threat Kavanaugh’s nomination poses to their constituencies. 
 
Want to know if there is an event planned near you and how you can get involved?Go here and type in your zip code to find out. Can’t join in person? Join a #StopKavanaugh online action on Sunday instead, like the Stop Kavanaugh Twitter storm our Charleston-based regional coordinator, WV FREE is hosting.  If there isn’t an event planned near you, get creative and follow the lead of our Massachusetts coordinator, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, which is encouraging members to host house parties on Sunday to talk about what’s at stake for women with Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Thursday
Aug162018

Could you lose coverage for a pre-existing condition?

WV family fears losing protections for coverage of pre-existing conditions

Julie Warden was 21 years old and running track at West Virginia University when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. At the time, she didn’t even realize someone her age could have arthritis. Julie, who is now Communications Director at WV FREE, Raising Women’s Voices’ Charleston-based regional coordinator, has continued to receive treatment for her arthritis over the past 12 years.

Thanks to the protections included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Julie has been able to get coverage for the health care she needs, despite having a pre-existing condition. Julie counts on her health insurance for medication, follow-up appointments and blood work to manage her condition.

While Julie appreciated how important coverage was for her own pre-existing condition, she didn’t fully realize how high the stakes were until a few years ago, when her young daughter, Remington, was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, which requires constant care and periodic trips to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Julie’s story illustrates what’s at stake for the estimated 358,000 West Virginian women and girls with pre-existing conditions, who could be charged more or denied coverage for individual insurance if this key provision of the ACA were overturned.

That’s why Julie (in black dress) spoke out at a press conference last week hosted by WVFree, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and Protect our Care WV to highlight the importance of ACA protections for people with pre-existing conditions. They were addressing their concerns to West Virginia’s two Senators (Shelly Moore Capito, a Republican, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat) who will soon vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Kavanugh’s nomination has health care advocates worried that he might be sympathetic to a lawsuit filed by Attorneys General from 20 states  (including West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey) that could end ACA protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Julie described how she and her family would be personally affected if they lost their health coverage due to pre-existing conditions. She urged her Senators to “please stop putting our healthcare at risk for your political party,” concluding that “West Virginians deserve access to affordable health care, even with a preexisting condition.”


Do you or a loved one have a pre-existing condition? Speak out now!
 

The ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are threatened not only by the pending lawsuit and the Kavanaugh nomination, but also by the Trump administration’s rules allowing more widespread sale of short-term and association health plans. These “Junk” health plans don’t have to comply with ACA rules, and so could exclude coverage for the treatments needed by many people with pre-existing conditions.

More than 130 million Americans – including an estimated 67 million women and girls – have pre-existing conditions. We’re guessing that you or a loved one would be harmed if the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions were overturned. We can’t let opponents of the ACA turn back the clock and deprive our families of coverage for the health care we need.

 

 

That’s why we’re urging you and your family members and friends to speak out now! Join us on social media next week as Raising Women’s Voices co-hosts two social media activities focused on pre-existing conditions:
  • On Tuesday, August 21, join a Twitter Storm from 2 to 3 pm organized by the National Partnership for Women and Families, and co-sponsored by Raising Women’s Voices. Use the  hasthtag #PreExAtStake. This action is part of a national Women’s Week of Action to call attention to what’s at stake with the SCOTUS nomination.
  • On Thursday, August 23, from 2 to 3 p.m., join us for a Twitter chat we’re co-hosting about what’s at stake for the 130 million people with pre-existing conditions. Use the hashtag #130MillionStrong.
What else can you do? Community Catalyst has a new Twitter tool that allows you to tweet directly at your member of Congress, asking them to sign on to a resolution defending the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions against attacks from the Trump administration and other threats.  You can click here to use that tool right now.


Patients, moms and doctors speak out at Washington hearing
 

During a Senate hearing in Washington today, patients, mothers and doctors spoke out about the importance of protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Elena Hung of Little Lobbyists, a group of parents who advocate for the care of their children special-needs children, explained why these protections matter to her. Elena’s four-year old daughter Xiomara was born with 10 pre-existing conditions, including complex medical problems affecting her airways, lungs, heart and kidneys. Xiomara spent the first five months of her life in a neo-natal intensive care unit, and now relies on a tracheotomy to breath and a feeding tube to eat.

Because of all her health problems, Xiomara is in constant need of medical attention. Elena describes her daughter today as “thriving,” but not without the help of countless hospital trips, specialist visits, and boxes of medical supplies. “Xiomara has made incredible progress,” says Elena, “and I am terrified that all that progress will be taken away.”

Elena criticized Donald Trump and the GOP for trying to take away the protections that help her daughter receive coverage for her all her medical needs. “How can the party that claims to be ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-family’ be leading the charge to repeal the protections that saved our babies lives?” she asks. “Children’s health should not be a partisan issue.” Elena will continue fighting against the efforts to repeal the protections for people with pre-existing conditions. “In a world that tells [Xiomara] no, I’m never going to stop fighting for her.”

Do you have a story about a pre-existing condition that you or someone else in your family has? Now is the time for you to speak up!