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Need new health insurance NOW?

If you experience certain life changes, you don’t have to wait for Open Enrollment in November to enroll in affordable health coverage on healthcare.gov or your state’s marketplace. You have 60 days after the following events to apply for a Special Enrollment Period and enroll:

• Moving to a new zip code or county
• Getting married or divorced
• Having a baby, adopting or becoming a foster parent
• Becoming a U.S. citizen or getting a green card

You have 60 days before or after the following to enroll: 

• Losing your health insurance from your job
• Turning 26 and aging off your parent’s health plan

And if you are experiencing domestic violence and want to apply for your own health plan, you can do so at any time.

Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods at healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

 

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Friday
Oct052018

Senate Clears Way for Final Kavanaugh Confirmation Vote Following Sham FBI Investigation

Senate Clears Way for Final Kavanaugh Confirmation Vote Following Sham FBI Investigation
 
Earlier today, the Senate voted 51-49 to cut off debate and move to a final vote on the Supreme Court Left
nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) broke with her party to vote No on “cloture” (the procedure for ending debate and moving to a final vote), while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted Yes. It is not yet clear whether all of the senators voting Yes on cloture today will also vote for final confirmation, which could happen as early as Saturday afternoon.
 
Since this morning’s cloture vote was procedural, there is still time to call your senators at (202) 224-3121 and let them know how important their final vote against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh is to you. Call your senators even if you think there’s no point. Call your senators even if they have already announced their vote one way or the other. If your senators are doing the wrong thing, they need to hear your opposition and know that their constituents are watching. If your senators are doing the right thing, thank them for standing up for women.
 
We don’t advise calling senators from other states, which can be counterproductive since it can block the phone lines and allow those senators to claim that the opposition isn’t reflective of how their constituents really feel. What you can do, however, is call your friends and family members in other states. Explain why this issue matters and ask them to call their senators.
 
At stake in this fight is the future of our country over the course of the next three decades. It’s abortion rights, access to contraceptives, and coverage for pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act. It’s civil rights, free and fair elections, and clean air and water. But it’s also about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court itself.
 
We already know that Kavanaugh is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court because of his blatant partisanship, dishonesty, and uncontrolled temper. And we believe the brave survivors who have come forward to share their stories, even with the full weight of the White House and Congress lined up to silence them.
 
In the days preceding today’s cloture vote, the FBI wrapped up a grossly inadequate background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh. As the Washington Post reported, it "appears to have been highly curtailed" by the Trump White House. 
 
The FBI did not interview Kavanaugh about the sexual assault allegations, even though it’s clear that he lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his past drinking and treatment of women, and even though his own calendar shows he attended a small party on July 1very much like the one Dr. Christine Blasey Ford described.
 
In addition, the FBI was not allowed to interview Dr. Ford and Julie Swetnick—two of the three women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The FBI was also not permitted to interview  dozens of people who could corroborate Ford's claims or those of Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez. The FBI’s final report is not public, and only a single copy was made available to all 100 senators, locked in a secure reading room. Senators are prevented from revealing what’s in the report but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made clear that they reveal more than Republicans are pretending: “One: This was not a full and fair investigation. It was sharply limited in scope and did not explore the relevant confirming facts. Two: The available documents do not exonerate Mr. Kavanaugh. And three: the available documents contradict statements Mr. Kavanaugh made under oath. I would like to back up these points with explicit statements from the FBI documents — explicit statements that should be available for the American people to see. But the Republicans have locked the documents behind closed doors.”


As the Senate moves towards its final confirmation vote—in spite of the overwhelming evidence of Kavanaugh’s dishonesty and sexual misconduct—we will continue to make our voices heard and let our senators know that #WeBelieveSurvivors.
 
Buyer beware! Band-Aid health plans are risky

Starting this month, insurance companies in many states are starting to sell newly expanded “short-term limited duration” health insurance plans. You may see advertisements for these plans and be tempted, because the prices could be low.  But these are really just “Band-Aid plans” that are good only for short-term coverage of very minor health needs. You shouldn’t consider them if you need comprehensive health insurance, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Here’s why. 

These plans don’t have to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comprehensive consumer protections. They are full of fine print excluding coverage for many types of medical care. Moreover, they aren’t required to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and can retroactively drop you from coverage without warning if they think your medical care will cost them too much. 

Short-term limited duration plans aren’t new. But until recently, short-term plans were more thoroughly regulated by the Obama administration in order to better protect consumers. Under the Obama administration, short-term health insurance plans were intended to cover very short gaps in coverage only, and were limited to just three months. Under new rules from the Trump administration, however, these plans can last for up to 364 days.

Left
Short-term plans often exclude coverage for things like prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse services and maternity care. Our Chicago-based Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinator, EverThrive Illinois, researched existing short-term plans and discovered a number of alarming fine-print exclusions.For example, one short-term plan sold in Illinois didn’t cover “non-emergency” hospital stays on Fridays and Saturdays.

Some short-term plans may deny coverage for any condition “for which medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received” in the two years prior to the start of coverage. For example, a San Antonio man with a short-term plan was denied coverage when he developed a kidney disease because his insurer noticed he had tests conducted eight months earlier. Although his doctor’s didn’t determine the exact diagnosis until later, he was denied coverage for his kidney disease

What else is problematic about the Band-Aid plans? These plans also drive up premiums for everyone with comprehensive health insurance, since they siphon off healthy people who want to take the risk of paying less for Band-Aid health insurance. Gary Claxton, Vice President of Kaiser Family Foundation, sums up the short-term plans by saying that they “draw in healthy people and spit them back into the marketplace when they’re sick.” When that happens, we end up with two separate health insurance “risk pools,” and the one with sicker people will have much higher premiums.

Some states have already acted to protect consumers from the harms of Band-Aid plans by regulating them at the state level. Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and most recently California, have prohibited the sale of Band-Aid plans.

But, the Independence Holding Company, one of the largest short-term plan sellers, is selling Band-Aid plans that last up to six months in a number of states, including Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. They are also selling Band-Aid plans that last up to 364 days in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

If you’re thinking about buying a Band-Aid plan, just remember that even though may be cheaper up front, they come with some serious long-term costs. These plans often discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, provide subpar coverage and leave sick people with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. Make sure to ask questions up front about whether your specific medical needs would be covered. 

If an insurance company asks you to fill out a detailed medical history form, you should realize right away that this is going to be a Band-Aid plan. Companies selling comprehensive  ACA plans are not allowed to ask about your medical history or deny you coverage because of your medical needs. 

Even though the Trump administration recently announced it wouldn’t be promoting Band-Aid plans on Healthcare.gov during the upcoming ACA Open Enrollment Period, individual brokers and insurance agents will still be able to promote them. Consumers may not be given all of the information they need to make an informed decision about what they are buying.

A group of stakeholders – including organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Little Lobbyists and the National Partnership for Women and Families – is pushing back against the rollout of these harmful plans through a federal lawsuit. They have pointed out that the expansion of short-term plans clearly undermines the ACA and will causeirreparable damage to the individual market. A federal judge in DC recently scheduled a hearing for October 26th on the stakeholders’ motion to suspend the administration’s short-term health plan rule. But in the meantime, the rule remains in effect and short-term plans remain on the market.

You may have seen news reports that a handful of House Republicans up for reelection are strategically promoting a nonbinding resolution in an attempt to demonstrate their commitment to protecting people with pre-existing conditions, as they simultaneously work to undermine those very protections through their sabotage of the ACA. The resolution does not give any details as to how it would, in fact, protect people with pre-existing conditions if the ACA were no longer the law of the land.

A Community Conversation about Black Women's Mental and Brain Health

For those in the Richmond, VA, area, RWV co-ordinating organization Black Women's Health Imperative will be sponsoring a free community conversation at Sarah Garland Jones Center next Wednesday, October 10, from 2 - 3:30 PM. The topic of the conversation will be Black women's mental and brain health, and will feature medical and mental health experts who will tackle the mental health issues concerning Black women today. Special guest speakers will include Stacey Brayboy, a representative from the office for VA Governor Ralph Northam. For more information, check out the Facebook page for this event here.

 

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