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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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Thursday
Apr182019

Medicaid expansion is a women’s health issue!

Medicaid expansion helps women and our families

In this week’s installment of our series of articles recognizing April as Medicaid Awareness Month, we’re highlighting the importance of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and what it means to women and families.

Prior to enactment of the ACA in 2010, many parents with dependent children were eligible for Medicaid only if they had incomes well below the poverty line. Most adults without dependent children weren’t eligible at all, although the rules varied state to state. As a result, contrary to popular belief, millions of even the poorest Americans weren’t eligible for coverage.

Congress’s remedy, enacted as part of the ACA, was to extend Medicaid eligibility to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) -- regardless of whether they fit into one of the pre-existing eligibility categories, which were for pregnant people, people with disabilities, children and seniors.

For millions of low-income Americans, that meant qualifying for high quality health coverage for the first time in their lives. But the Medicaid expansion as envisioned by the ACA wasn’t just a huge leap forward in public health and women’s health. It also addressed the institutional racism that was original Medicaid’s original sin.

Writing for the Women’s Health Activist, RWV co-founder Cindy Pearson explains:

“But while the same congressional act created Medicaid and Medicare, only Medicaid was built on the foundation of earlier public assistance programs, with all of their existing racist, distorted, and discriminatory aspects. … Ceding coverage decisions to the states let the Jim Crow South drag its feet; 32 other states adopted [original] Medicaid before even one former Confederate state did, and Southern resistance continued for decades. The federal government mandated that parents of dependent children be covered but, in reality, coverage was almost unobtainable in Southern states, which capped eligibility at income levels as low as 10% FPL. Even when the federal government offered matching funds to encourage states to cover pregnant women, working parents, and certain low-income children, Southern states rejected most of these opportunities.

The ACA sought to fix this unequal, unjust system by requiring states to participate in Medicaid and by equalizing eligibility in all states. For the first time, low-income American adults would be guaranteed access to health care coverage under the law no matter where they lived in the U.S. and states couldn’t play games with their eligibility requirements to deny coverage to people of color. If a state denied someone coverage under the old rules, she would still qualify under the new expansion.”

 
But as we know, the story doesn’t end there. In 2012, a group of conservative states led by Florida challenged the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in court. The Supreme Court upheld the expansion’s constitutionality, but made it optional for states. With one decision, the Court took the potential opportunity for health care away from millions of vulnerable women and restored a decades-old structure built to appease Jim Crow segregationists.

While 25 states and Washington, DC, expanded Medicaid as envisioned by the ACA on January 1, 2014, the fight to expand in the remaining 25 states and to protect the expansion in the original 26 must now be waged state by state.

For the last five years, expanding Medicaid nationwide and fixing the Court’s mistake has been one of RWV’s most important missions. Our regional coordinators have successfully helped push for Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania, Montana, Louisiana, and Maine. But given Medicaid’s history, it’s no surprise that of the remaining 14-17 states without expansions, 7 are in the Deep South and 4 are Southern border states. (While Utah, Idaho and Nebraska have officially “adopted” Medicaid expansion and are included in official counts, GOP lawmakers in those three states have taken action to roll back coverage.) As Cindy notes, “the remaining opposition isn’t rational, it’s rooted in deeply held prejudices.” But there’s hope. RWV starts at the grassroots, and organizes across race and class. Join us in working to make Medicaid a true safety net for all.

New state reports on Medicaid and rural communities

Medicaid is vital to the health and wellbeing of rural areas across the country. For Medicaid Awareness Month, the national Protect Our Care coalition has created state-by-state reports on how threats to Medicaid affect rural residents.  You can find the one for your state here.

What do we learn from these reports? Well, for example, an estimated 726,000 Georgians would gain health coverage if that state were to finally expand its Medicaid program. Currently, 26 percent of Georgia adults living in rural areas are uninsured, compared to 19 percent in non-rural regions of the state. The state’s refusal to expand Medicaid has placed 26 rural hospitals at great financial risk. Severn rural hospitals have already closed in Georgia since 2010, when Georgia lawmakers turned down Medicaid expansion.

 

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