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 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 or call 1-800-318-2596.


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« Number of underinsured people is rising | Main | The future of Roe, on the 46th anniversary »

Women lead push to protect our health care!

House hearing on protecting people with pre-existing conditions!

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee held its first policy hearing of the new Congress, highlighting ways that the Trump administration has put people with pre-existing conditions at risk by expanding junk insurance plans, sabotaging ACA outreach and enrollment, and refusing to defend the ACA in court. More than 67 million American women have pre-existing conditions.

In a surprise announcement during the hearing, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) highlighted what is at stake with news that that she had been diagnosed with small cell lymphocytic lymphoma last year. “Ways and Means Republicans have voted to defund, undercut, and undermine our country’s health care system. They have made it clear as day that they care more about the cost of the ACA than the value of human life,” Moore said. “I am announcing my remission today to remind everyone on this committee that I am a living example of the lifesaving value of essential health benefits. For my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that is a cost worth paying.”

The House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee is also planning a hearing in the coming weeks into the Texas v. Azar court case that threatens to unwind the entire health care law, including consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

RWV joins advocates from across the country at Families USA Health Action Conference!

Ann Danforth, Senior State Advocacy Manager for the Community Catalyst Women’s Health Program, and Sarah Christopherson, Policy Advocacy Director for the National Women’s Health Network, represented Raising Women’s Voices last week in Washington, D.C., at Families USA’s 2019 Health Action Conference, “Fighting for America’s Families.” We joined national and state leaders in the health care movement for an opportunity to reflect, share stories, learn from one another and re-energize for our work in the year to come.

A theme that ran throughout the entire conference was one of strong women leaders, and was embodied by the conference’s first speaker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (pictured above).  Speaker Pelosi kicked off the conference by celebrating the work of the advocates in the room. She told the audience that thanks to our work, “the most important issue in the campaign was health care,” adding that “thanks to you, there were 10,000 grassroots events across the country to protect the ACA.” She spelled out the House Democrats’ “For the People” agenda, which includes preserving the ACA, expanding health care, and reducing prescription drug prices. She reminded us that, as advocates and policy makers, “We don’t just want the grassroots to mobilize, we want them to give us their views on what policy should look like.”

Sister Simone Campbell spoke about the moral imperative she feels to engage in health advocacy. She is Executive Director of NETWORK and a longtime health advocate who organized the 2014 “Nuns on the Bus Tour” in support of the ACA. Most recently, she and her colleagues took to the road again with their “Nuns on the Bus ‘On the Road to Mar-a-Lago’” tour, which included 54 events in 21 states. The goal of the tour was to hold members of Congress accountable for their multiple attempts to repeal the ACA, and their eventual successful attempt to repeal the ACA’s individual mandate through the 2017 tax bill. She highlighted the power of real people’s stories, and echoed Speaker Pelosi’s call to hold elected officials accountable. “You all need to continue to knock on the doors, engage, and make clear that we, the people, are watching,” she urged.

Stacey Abrams (pictured above) tell us to educate, advocate and activate! The 2018 candidate for Georgia governor and founder of Fair Fight shared her brother’s struggles with mental illness and pointed to a health care system that failed him. She stressed the importance of Medicaid expansion in increasing coverage for people with behavioral and mental health issues. Abrams called on health advocates to follow three simple steps that will enable us to achieve the social justice change we want to see: first, educate the public and our leaders using stories. “This is your life; make it their learning,” she said. Second,advocate on behalf of the issues we care about. And third, activate people to turn out and make a difference. “If you educate, advocate and activate, we will claim victory for America.”

Experts discuss threats to women’s health and LGBTQ health, and the negative impact of racial and gender biases. During breakout panels, national and state experts covered a variety of RWV priority issues, including state and federal threats to women’s health and LGBTQ health, and strategies for pushing back. Panelists from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), American Conference of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights discussed the harm of recent Trump administration regulations for women,  particularly low-income women of color. Examples include rules targeting the Title X family planning program and the ACA’s contraceptive coverage benefit. They also pointed to proactive state work, such as Oregon’s Reproductive Health Equity Act and New York’s recent Reproductive Health Act, as a means to protect women at the state level against harmful federal threats.

At a panel focused on LGBTQ health, Out2Enroll’s Katie Keith talked about the health coverage gains for trans people under the ACA, as well as the remaining work that needs to be done. In 2013, 59% of trans people didn’t have health insurance, whereas in 2017, 25% of trans people didn’t have health insurance, she said. Luc Athayde-Rizzaro from theNational Center for Transgender Equality discussed the implications of the anticipated Trump administration rollback of the Obama administration’s rule interpreting the ACA’s Section 1557 non-discrimination provision, often referred to as a “health care civil rights law,” as well as some of the opportunities that exist at the state level to secure health care protections for transgender people.


At a breakout panel entitled Listen to us! How racial and gender biases undermine women’s health, Ann Marie Benitez of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Joia Adele Crear-Perry of the National Birth Equity Collaborative and Community Catalyst board member (pictured above), Rachel Hardeman of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Aisha Liferidge of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, talked about how racial and gender biases drive health inequities. Using a reproductive justice framework, speakers grounded the conversation by first explaining the history of eugenics in the U.S. They discussed the history of forced sterilization, coercion, and medical experimentation targeting women of color. They talked about the ways in which this legacy of racism has led to providers minimizing the pain of women of color, as their needs go unmet and racial health disparities among women of color persist. The panel concluded with a conversation about state policy efforts to begin to address disparities, such as Medicaid coverage for doulas, and requirements that health care providers undergo implicit bias trainings.

During the final plenary, And Still We Rise: Women Leaders who Resist and Thrive,Chirlane McCray, Founder of ThriveNYC and First Lady of New York City, spoke about the importance of prioritizing mental health care. “There is no health without mental health,” she said. The panel of social justice leaders who followed her – including moderator Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio of Families USA, Keisha Bradford of Health Center Association of Nebraska, Cristina Jimenez of United we Dream, Monica Simpson of SisterSong, andAnna Chu of the National Women’s Law Center – reiterated First Lady McCray’s message, speaking to the importance of mental health for everyone, including yourself. “Not taking care of yourself is an act of violence against yourself,” Jiminez said, when asked how she continues to fight for what’s right, even in the face of adversity and burnout.

What did the government shutdown cost?

This week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 5-week shutdown of the federal government cost the US economy $11 billion. Although most federal health programs were protected because HHS was already funded through this coming September, the longer-than-expected shutdown had serious health-related consequences for hundreds of thousands of Americans. Federal employees faced a reset of their deductibles right as they weren’t getting paid, federal contractors couldn’t make premium payments on their employees’ plans, and ACA marketplace enrollees dependent on the IRS to certify their income couldn’t receive financial aid to help offset their premium costs. And of course, Indian Health Service workers were asked to continue to serve 2.2 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives without pay, putting all non-emergency care on hold.

Late last Friday, Donald Trump caved to growing pressure from rank-and-file Senate Republicans and agreed to support a clean continuing resolution funding the government through February 15 without any money for the wall or other new anti-immigration measures. After preemptively declaring himself solely responsible for the shutdown in December, public opinion polls consistently showed that a majority of Americans oppose the wall and blamed Republicans for the longest government shutdown in history. In exchange for re-opening the government without wall funding, congressional leadership agreed to convene a bipartisan bicameral conference committee on the Homeland Security appropriations bill to negotiate the president’s demands, along with protections for the Dreamers and other outstanding immigration concerns.

Democrats are not expected to agree to more than fig leaf funding for Trump’s signature issue—for example, they may agree to additional funds to improve existing fencing—raising questions about whether parts of the government will once again shut down in two weeks. But even among Senate Republicans there appears to be very little appetite for another“kick from the mule,” in GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s words.

Trump readying a sneak approach to Medicaid block grants

Continuing its seemingly relentless attack on Medicaid recipients, the Trump administration revealed earlier this month that it is working on guidance to allow states to institute Medicaid block grants through the existing 1115 waiver process. A long-time conservative goal, Republicans in the previous Congress repeatedly tried and failed to block grant Medicaid as part of their ACA repeal attempts. The proposal CMS is considering would allow states to apply for less money in exchange for greater “flexibility” to spend it how they want instead of on protected groups like pregnant women and people with disabilities.

 It’s not clear whether the administration actually has the legal authority to offer block grants under current law. But at least one important voice is adamant that they do not. House E&C Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said bluntly: "CMS doesn’t have the legal authority to block grant Medicaid. Block grants undermine the protections of the Medicaid program and put our most vulnerable citizens at risk.” Any move to issue such guidance would almost certainly prompt immediate oversight action by the new House majority.

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