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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
May022019

Trump administration issues rule that will increase discrimination against women and LGBTQ people

*UPDATE: The final religious refusal rule has now been released. We will share our analysis in the next update of our blog.

Trump administration poised to issue rules that will increase discrimination against women and LGBTQ people

This week, we have several positive developments to report on from the states. Keep reading to learn more about recent wins in Massachusetts and Maryland!

Meanwhile, on a less positive note, we’re anticipating the release today of two Trump administration rules that will increase health care discrimination against women, transgender and other LGBTQ people seeking health care. The first is a proposed federal rule that we expect will undermine enforcement of  non-discrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This rule will likely roll back portions of a 2016 Obama administration regulation interpreting Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the nondiscrimination provision, also known as the Health Care Rights Law. That provision prohibits any health program or activity that receives federal funding from discriminating against individuals on the basis of sex. The Obama rule interpreted sex discrimination to include any discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, their departure from traditional sex stereotypes  or a patient’s request for, or past history of, termination of pregnancy.

This proposed rule would likely subject members of the LGBTQ community to renewed, and possibly intensified discrimination in health care, such as in denial of gender transition services, purposeful misgendering, improper hospital room assignments and improper or hostile treatment by health care providers. It could also mean that patients could be denied medically-indicated terminations of pregnancy, such as in cases of reproductive emergencies.

We’re also expecting a final rule that will likely expand the ability of health providers to refuse care based on personal religious or moral objections. This rule was proposed in January 2018, and more than 200,000 comments – including comments from RWV and our regional coordinators – were submitted in response.
Taken together, these two rules pose a serious threat to health care access. They are part of a coordinated attack by the Trump-Pence Administration on the health and well-being of patients, particularly women and LGBTQ patients, who are more likely to be subject to discrimination and refused needed health care, such as abortion and transition related services.

We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about these rules, and will highlight upcoming opportunities to speak out against them.

The Cap on Kids has been Lifted!

In Maryland, our regional coordinator, Consumer Health First, has been advocating for the adoption of HB 127/SB 36 - Health Benefit Plans - Special Enrollment for Pregnancy. This legislation – which passed the Maryland General Assembly with unanimous support and now goes to Governor Hogan’s desk for signature – makes pregnancy a "life-qualifying" event and allows people to purchase private insurance through Maryland Health Connection outside of the six-week open enrollment period.

The ACA established an open enrollment period, during which people can purchase their own health insurance through the marketplace. In order to address instances where people’s life circumstances change outside of the open enrollment period, such as marriage, divorce, or losing one’s health insurance, "Special Enrollment Periods" were created. While having a baby is included as a life-qualifying event under the ACA, pregnancy is not. As a result, some uninsured people (who weren’t otherwise eligible for Medicaid) were unable to get prenatal services critical to their own health and the health of their babies.  Under Maryland’s new legislation, after receiving certification of their pregnancy from their health care provider, an individual in the state will have 90 days to apply for coverage. Their coverage will be effective from the first day of the month in which they enroll.

As states across the country are working to address maternal health disparities, Maryland serves as a model for one way to help ensure timely and appropriate maternity care, including prenatal care. This legislation will help provide better health outcomes for mothers and babies, and is particularly important for women of color who are disproportionately impacted by pregnancy-related health disparities. 

Beth Sammis, Consumer Health First President said, “We find it hard to conceive of the fact that, until now, uninsured women could only get health insurance at the time they gave birth and not during the critical prenatal period. That made no sense, and, since 2016 when the legislation was first introduced, we have said so. Now, with the strong leadership of Delegate Ariana Kelly (D-16) and Senator Clarence Lam (D-12) we can ensure that Maryland supports a policy of healthy moms and healthy babies." 

NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, our Boston based regional coordinator, celebrated the recent repeal of the “Cap on Kids” or the “Family Cap.” A law that has been on the books in the state denies welfare benefits to children conceived while or soon after the family receives state assistance. Under the recently repealed law, which originated out of harmful and racist stereotypes about welfare recipients, the state currently denies assistance to approximately 8,700 children.

Legislation to repeal the cap was initially vetoed by Governor Baker, but the legislature successfully overrode the veto. According to Mass Live, a single mother with two children, one of whom was born while the family was on welfare, will see her monthly payment increase from $491 to $593. Until the legislation’s passage, Massachusetts remained one of 16 states to have a family cap, and is now the ninth state to repeal an existing cap. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts celebrated the repeal as a reproductive justice victory. It takes the state one step closer to a world in which every Bay Stater can decide if and when to have children, and be able to feed, clothe, and care for those children. 

Study shows Medicaid Expansion improves health outcomes for black infants

Medicaid Expansion has continued to play a vital role in providing health coverage to millions of Americans across the country. But, what about health disparities? According to a study by Brown and colleagues, published in JAMA, Medicaid Expansion is helping to reduce longstanding disparities between the health of black and white infants.  The study at the health looked at the health of babies born in18 states and Washington, DC, all of which have expanded Medicaid and compared them to babies born in 17 states that have not expanded Medicaid.  The article explains that disparities in preterm birth and low birth weight between black and white infants significantly improved in expansion states.   For years there have been persistent differences between black and white babies in the likelihood that of experiencing these dangerous outcomes.

Medicaid Expansion does not cure anything and everything but what we do know is that black babies are experiencing better outcomes in states that have expanded coverage. Reducing racial disparities continues to be a barrier to true health justice. To see results such as these due to Medicaid eligibility, it’s worth paying attention.

Together for the People

RWV coordinating team members Lois Uttley, Ann Danforth and Cindy Pearson (pictured above) joined 700 supporters of health justice to honor Rob Restuccia and celebrate Community Catalyst and Health Care for All (Massachusetts).   Restuccia, who died of pancreatic cancer earlier this year, served as the executive director of both organizations.  The event raised over $2 million for the organizations’ work to engage and support consumers, protect and defend access to health care, and fight for health justice.  A highlight of the evening was an interactive fundraising activity that raised $150,000 towards the Rob Restuccia Health Justice Organizational Fellowship, an intentional investment in next-generation health advocacy and leadership. 

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