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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.

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!

We must protect people with pre-existing conditions!

People with pre-existing conditions are speaking out!

Deneen Robinson of Texas knows personally the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which ensure they cannot be denied health insurance, charged more or otherwise discriminated against. “When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1991,” Deneen says, “the doctors told me I only had three years to live. But I’m still here. I’ve raised two children, now 29 and 30 years old. Thanks to the ACA, I was able to get health care, despite my pre-existing health conditions, and to stay alive and healthy enough to take care of my family.”

For Deneen, being able to receive the health care she needs has enabled her to help others through her work as Program Director atThe Afiya Center in Dallas, which is a Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinator. “Not only have I had more time with my family, I’ve been able to advance in my career. I now work full time to make sure that other black women of color have access to the care they need. In the course of this work, I’ve seen first-hand how many women, especially black women, the ACA helps – and how many Texans would lose health care due to pre-existing conditions without the ACA’s protections.”

But now Deneen and others with pre-existing conditions are fighting to keep those life-saving protections!  A group of conservative state Attorneys General have filed alawsuit alleging that the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional. The Trump administration has refused to defend the ACA in this case, which could make its way to the Supreme Court.

Deneen wrote an article for TribTalk, a publication of the Texas Tribune, speaking out about her concerns:  “The recent announcement of a new vacancy on the Supreme Court creates even more danger for the clients of The Afiya Center, my community and other women like me. President Donald Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, will further undermine the ACA…Black women and other women of color will be among the hardest hit if President Trump and his conservative court succeed in stripping away the protections built into the ACA.”

She pointed out that, “Nationally, 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions could face discrimination from insurance companies if the ACA’s protections are repealed. These companies could charge us sky-high rates – or deny us coverage altogether. People like me could lose our homes, our savings, or even worse: our lives.” You can read the rest of Deneen’s powerful article here.

What can you do to protect women and families with pre-existing conditions?

Raising Women’s Voices is joining with national partner groups to raise awareness about the attacks on protections for people with pre-existing conditions, while elevating the voices of people who would be affected, like Deneen Robinson.  Do you or a loved one have a pre-existing condition that insurers could use to deny you coverage, if the ACA protections were eliminated? Check the list below. Remember that before the ACA, women were often denied coverage for other “pre-existing conditions” such as having had a Cesarean section delivery, or having been a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence.

You can participate in any of the following activities:
  • Share personal stories about how you or your loved ones would be affected by rolling back protections for pre-existing conditions. Use  the hashtag #130MillionStrong, which the Protect Our Care coalition is using to remind us of how many people have pre-existing conditions and to communicate our determination to stand strong against attempts to roll back ACA protections.
  • Join a Twitter Chat on August 23 focusing on protections for pre-existing conditions. We’ll have more details about this in next week’s newsletter.
  • Contact your members of Congress  and ask them to sign resolutions that have been introduced in the House and Senate in support of joining the Democratic AGs defending the court case
  • Spread the word to friends, family and colleagues about the multiple threats to protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including  Trump’s SCOTUS nominee and short term “junk” plans.
Odds are we all know someone who lives with a pre-existing condition. Now is the time to speak out to protect our care! Stay tuned for further opportunities for action throughout the campaign!

Congress is back home. Time to speak out!

Ask Your Members of Congress to Protect Our Care!
Members of Congress are back in their home districts for a recess that extends to the end of next week. That means we have the opportunity to engage directly with them, such as by showing up at scheduled town hall meetings.  Ask them to protect our care and hold them accountable as we face continuing threats to our health care!
Check out this website from Indivisible to find out if your member of Congress will be hosting a town hall near you. Some of these meetings are taking place as early as today, and continue over the weekend and into next week. If there is no town hall meeting near you, you can go here for assistance with setting up an in-person meeting at the district office of your member of Congress.
What are some specific issues you could raise when talking with your member of Congress? Protections for people with pre-existing conditions are under attack from alawsuit, Texas v. US Dept of HHS, filed by group of Attorneys General from conservative states hostile to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Trump administration has refused to defend the ACA against this lawsuit, meaning the law’s prohibition against denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions is at risk. So, Democratic members of the House and the Senate have both introduced resolutions to take action and join a group of Attorneys General from progressive states who are defending the ACA’s requirements. Ask your members of Congress to make a commitment to protecting health care consumers by signing on to these resolutions.
That court case is also a reason to be concerned about Trump’s nomination of conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Some analysts believe his past record of decisions indicates he might vote to overturn the ACA, should the Texas case reach the high court. Moreover, Kavanaugh is considered likely to vote to undermine or even overturn Roe v. Wade, should the opportunity arise in a case brought to the Supreme Court.
Confirmation hearings in the Senate could begin as early as next month, which means this recess could be last chance for Senators to hear their constituents’ concerns about Kavanaugh before the final vote. Take this Congressional recess as a chance to reach out to your Senators, and remind them what’s at stake for women and LGBTQ people with Trump’s SCOTUS pick. 
Members of the House of Representatives and a number of Senators are also running for re-election this year, and there are lively contests in most states. This week is a good opportunity to ask both the incumbents and their challengers about their views on key health care issues. FamiliesUSA has compiled a list of important questions to ask candidates about health care, which you can find here.
Take action against “junk” health plans!
On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services released a final rule to expand the sale of more junk health plans – this time, in the form of short-term health plans. The final rule allows insurers to sell short-term plans for a period of just less than 12 months (compared to a 3-month limit now) and to renew the policies for up to 3 years. These junk plans are likely to be available starting this October.
Short-term plans aren’t required to cover the 10 essential health benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. They can also charge higher premiums or deny coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Like all the other moves by the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the expansion of short-term health plans will drive up premiums and may make comprehnsive coverage unaffordable. These junk plans won’t cover what women need!

What can you do now?  You could ask your member of Congress to support a just-announced effort by Senate Democrats to try to scrap the Trump administration's new rule on short-term health plans. They will try to pass a Congressional resolution to overturn the rule. It’s an uphill fight, though, as such a resolution must be passed by a majority vote in both chambers of Congress, which are currently controlled by Republicans  Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) plans to introduce the long-shot resolution within 60 days of the regulations being submitted to Congress."The Trump administration's new rule expands plans that are nothing short of junk insurance, and Democrats in the Senate will do everything in our power to stop it," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.  

There are also things you can do at the state level. Call your governor and state legislators and urge them to pass policies to regulate short-term health plans and to ensure consumer protections. EverThrive Illinois, RWV’s Chicago-based RC, has been working as part of the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition to define and regulate short-term plans through HB2624- the Short Term Limited Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act, which would help protect Illinois consumers from the Trump administration’s regulatory actions. HB2624 limits the sale of short-term health plans in Illinois to 180 days in any given year and would eliminate confusion by requiring insurers who sell short-term plans in Illinois to have clear, plain language on all sales and marketing materials. The bill has made it to Governor Rauner’s desk, where it is awaiting his signature.
Protect Our Care Illinois is launching a statewide day of action on Monday, August 6, to drive calls Governor Rauner asking him to sign HB2624 to protect Illinois consumers from plans that would expose them to high medical debt and coverage that will not cover all of their needs.



It’s the LAST DAY to speak out now against Trump’s Title X rule!

Submit your comments opposing Trump’s Title X rule today

Today, July 31, is the deadline for submitting your comments on Trump’s Title X rule! 
Tell the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that this rule wouldcompromise the quality and scope of family planning services patients can receive from Title X clinics, allow biased counseling and deny patients the full information they need to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. It would also push out of the Title X network those clinics, such as Planned Parenthood health centers, that provide abortions on site using separate funds. Tell HHS to withdraw the proposed rule because of the serious harm it would do to patients, especially those who are low income, women of color and LGBTQ people.
Take action today! CLICK HERE to submit your comments to HHS. (Don’t worry that the HHS page says the comments are about “Compliance with Statutory Program Integrity Requirements.” That’s just the bureaucratic way of describing the proposed Title X rule.

If you represent an organization, Raising Women’s Voices has drafted template comments that you can tailor to reflect the experiences of the people you serve and submit to HHS. Both the volume of comments submitted as well as the depth of the comments are critical, as they can set the stage for litigation or changes in regulations. HHS will also have to respond to all submitted comments, so quantity and diversity in comments will help delay finalization and implementation of the rule. We encourage you to share unique stories as to how the Title X proposed rule would impact your community. 


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