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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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RWVoices

Thursday
Dec272018

We’re ready for action in 2019! Can you help?

Help us champion women’s and LGBTQ health in 2019!


We’re ready to fight for women’s health and LGBTQ health in Washington and across the nation! 


Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators from 16 states came to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to meet with our national coordinating team (from the Black Women’s Health Imperative, Community Catalyst’s Women’s Health Program and the National Women’s Health Network) and prepare for 2019 action. Here we are in a brief break from our intense discussions.

Can you help by making a year-end donation to support our work? Click here to make a donation to Raising Women’s Voices through the Women’s Health Program of Community Catalyst. 


What are we planning for 2019?

We count among our most important accomplishments this year our success in raising the visibility of health care issues among women and LGBTQ people at a crucial political moment.  Their heightened awareness enabled them to hold elected officials accountable for their votes to repeal/undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA), slash Medicaid, impose Medicaid work requirements and attack reproductive health providers.

November saw the election of record numbers of diverse women and LGBTQ people committed to protecting and expanding health care coverage and access.  As a result, there will be new opportunities in 2019 to work with progressive members of Congress to exercise oversight of Trump administration actions and fight back against the outrageous federal judge’s decision invalidating the entire ACA. In some states, we will be able to engage newly-elected progressive governors and legislative majorities in expanding Medicaid, codifying Roe v. Wade at the state level and using state policies to protect residents from federal regulatory threats to contraceptive coverage.

During our convening, regional coordinators split up into breakout groups based on their state’s political environment. Coordinators from the “bluer” states of California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Rode Island and Washington discussed their plans for pro-active state work, moderated by Community Catalyst Senior State Advocacy Manager Ann Danforth. In addition to contraceptive coverage and codifying Roe, they discussed efforts to enact LGBTQ-inclusive paid family leave policies, increase young people’s access to abortion, expand dental benefits to adults (especially pregnant women), prohibit discrimination against pregnant workers, lower prescription drug costs and provide driver’s licenses to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA recipients.
 
Can you help fuel this federal and state-level work by making a year-end donation? Click here to make a donation to Raising Women’s Voices through the Women’s Health Program of Community Catalyst. 


Help us forge new directions in our work!

Some Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinators are working to address maternal health disparities.  That’s because Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die because of a pregnancy-related complication than are white women. During our recent convening in Washington, RWV Regional Field Manager Kalena Murphy (far left in photo), who works for the National Women’s Health Network, moderated a powerful panel discussion of our new work in this area.
 
Linda Blount Goler (second from right in photo) from the Black Women’s Health Imperative, provided a brief overview of maternal health disparities and strategies for health advocates. She noted that “85 percent of maternal deaths are preventable.” One important strategy, she said, is to lift up the stories of Black women and families about their maternity care experiences, suggesting that “we need to change the narrator, not the narrative.”

Deneen Robinson (center in photo) from The Afiya Center in Dallas discussed ways their staff are  “working to tackle this problem,” with grant support from Raising Women’s Voices.  First, they are collecting stories from families of Black women who have died from pregnancy-related causes.  The Center plans to produce a report and frame maternal mortality and morbidity data with these stories. They are also training doulas to provide six weeks of post-partum care and creating a directory of doctors who have a record of listening to women, so Afiya staff can refer clients to providers who  will give them good care and respect their concerns.
 
Kavelle Christie (second from left in photo) from Planned Parenthood of Southern New England highlighted PPSNE’s Healthy Neighborhood Canvass Initiative. With support from Raising Women’s Voices PPSNE is going into communities across Rhode Island to educate the public and collect stories about issues relating to Black/African American maternal mortality. “Black experience isn’t monolithic. We need to lift up cultural differences in way people experience birth,” she said. “Lift up terrible experiences, but also lift up liberatory experiences. We don’t want to normalize Black death.” The Healthy Neighborhood Canvass Initiative will lay the groundwork for PPSNE’s anticipated work in 2019 to build support for a policy that would ensure doulas are covered by Medicaid in Rhode Island.

Raising Women’s Voices is also exploring how to support and expand our regional coordinators’ existing work addressing key factors (other than coverage or access to care) that can dramatically affect our health – such as substandard housing, environmental toxins and lack of healthy food options. These factors – which are often referred to as social determinants of health – fall squarely within the reproductive justice (RJ) framework pioneered by women of color, which includes the rights to bodily autonomy and to bring up children in safe, healthy environments.  

Lois Uttley, an RWV co-founder, and Women’s Health Program Director for Community Catalyst, moderated a session on these topics.  Our newest RWV regional coordinator, Cassandra Welchlin of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (in photo at left), who is a licensed social worker, talked about her work in that state to address a wide variety of issues, including inadequate child care, wage inequality and domestic violence. Marisol Franco of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and Lexi White from New Voices for Reproductive Justice described how their work on reproductive justice issues includes addressing such issues as wage equality, air and water quality, trauma and the long-term effects of “deep poverty”  in early childhood.

Can you help support this exciting new work by making a year-end donation? Click here to make a donation to Raising Women’s Voices through the Women’s Health Program of Community Catalyst. 

Our regional coordinators also discussed the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies and the potential impact on health in immigrant communities in a session moderated by RWV Outreach and Engagement Coordinator Diana Zheng (far left in photo), who works for the Women’s Health Program of Community Catalyst. Much of the discussion focused on public charge, as it is an issue causing much fear and confusion in immigrant communities.Huma Zarif, (second from right in photo) from Northwest Health Law Advocates in Seattle, explained the “chilling effect” that public charge is causing in immigrant communities, as more immigrants are forgoing health care and no longer signing up for public health programs for fear of jeopardizing their immigration status. Homelessness and hunger are also likely to increase among immigrants, as proposed changes also add SNAP and housing assistance to the public charge test, she said. Immigrant women will be disproportionately impacted by all of these changes, as they make up the majority of single-parent households and are more likely to rely on public benefit programs to make ends meet.

Karla Garcia (at right in photo) from COLOR in Denver discussed outreach strategies to help educate immigrants about public charge. Karla emphasized the importance of alternative outreach strategies like radio or in-person outreach to those who might not have access to internet. Karla encouraged advocates to reach out to elected officials to educate them on the issue and help them understand how their constituents will be impacted. She also reminded advocates that outreach and education about public charge could look different in each state, as public benefit enrollment processes can vary. For example, though ACA marketplace plans are not part of the public charge test, individuals who fill out a marketplace application in Colorado will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid if they qualify. It is important for advocates to get to know the specific circumstances surrounding enrollment in their own states.

Finally, Xyra Flores from Trans Queer Pueblo in Arizona talked about the impact of Trump’s immigration policies on LGBTQ immigrants. LGBTQ immigrants already face many barriers that prevent access to health care; anti-immigration policies like public charge only exacerbate the problem. Xyra discussed in particular how public charge will make it more difficult for trans immigrants to access hormone therapy. She described how the criminalization and detention of undocumented LGBTQ immigrants, especially trans immigrants, can put their safety, or even their lives, in danger.

Please include support for this important work in your year-end donations. Click here to make a donation to Raising Women’s Voices through the Women’s Health Program of Community Catalyst.

Thursday
Dec202018

Millions enroll in ACA coverage, despite judge’s ruling

Judge issues sweeping ruling, but ACA remains the law 

Late last week, federal court Judge Reed O’Connor issued a sweeping opinion striking down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on legally shaky grounds. The “intensely political judge”had delayed issuing his ruling for months, raising speculation that he was doing so to help Republicans get through the midterm elections, in which health care was a top issue for voters. Then O’Connor seemed to time his ruling—the night before the last day of open enrollment, when a rush of last-minute sign-ups were expected—to inflict maximum damage on the ACA, whether his decision stands up against appeal or not.
 
The law is being defended by 17 Democratic state attorneys general. When Democrats assume control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January, they are expected to quickly pass a resolution formally joining the case. (They also plan to investigate why Trump’s Justice Department controversially refused to defend the law, a move so unusual that several Justice Department attorneys ultimately removed themselves from the case.) In the interim, “the law remains in place,” according to a statement from the White House.
 
Fortunately, the judge’s ruling had less of a dent in ACA health plan enrollment than we had feared.  Despite the uncertainty, 8.5 million Americans signed up for a health plan on HealthCare.gov during this year’s open enrollment period (November 1 to December 15). That’s according to enrollment numbers released this week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While this is a 4 percent decrease from last year’s enrollment, the drop was much smaller than was anticipated, considering that the Trump administration slashed outreach and navigator funding for the second year in a row and eliminated the individual mandate to have insurance.  

Those numbers don’t include enrollment from states with their own health insurance marketplaces, such as New York, where state officials announced record enrollments to date. “Despite the constant threats to the Affordable Care Act, New York’s health insurance Marketplace stands strong,” said NY State of Health Executive Director, Donna Frescatore. “More than a million consumers have already enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan or the Essential Plan during New York’s 2019 open enrollment period, proof that New Yorkers want access to high quality, affordable care that they deserve.”  New York, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia have extended open enrollment through January 31. Other states that have extended enrollment beyond the federal deadline include Minnesota (January 13), California and Colorado (January 15), and Massachusetts (January 23).

These enrollment numbers send a loud and clear message: the American people are in favor of affordable, quality health coverage made possible through the ACA.

 
Why was this such a legally dubious court ruling? 

The scale of O’Connor’s decision surprised even the most cynical observers, and the legal theory at the heart of the case is weak.
 
When Congress passed the ACA in 2010, it argued that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance was necessary for building a robust insurance pool in which low costs for a large number of healthy people could balance out expensive medical costs for a small number of sick people. Without the mandate bringing in those healthy people, Congress argued, it wouldn’t be possible to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions could get coverage at affordable prices.
 
In 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts legitimized a then-fringe right wing attack on Congress’s power to regulate under the Commerce Clause by arguing that the clause did not give Congress the authority to mandate that individuals purchase insurance. But in a twist, Roberts joined the liberals to uphold the constitutionality of the individual mandate as a taxon those who didn’t purchase insurance.
 
In 2017, the GOP-held Congress repealed the tax penalty associated with the mandate on a party-line vote, but not the actual mandate itself. Because Roberts had upheld the mandate as a tax, 20 state attorneys general led by Texas filed suit in 2018 alleging that the GOP tax bill made the individual mandate unconstitutional and, thus, all of the consumer protections that were tied to the mandate unconstitutional by extension.
 
O’Connor’s decision to grant standing to the plaintiffs in this case is itself controversial. To win standing, plaintiffs must demonstrate they are suffering harm. There’s a case to be made that the individual mandate was never a mandate at all but rather a choice between buying health insurance or paying a tax, and now Congress has simply made the tax $0. It’s hard to see who is harmed by paying a tax of $0. But even if one accepts O’Connor’s premise, his decision to look to the 2010 Congress for intent instead of the 2017 Congress makes no sense.
 
The 2017 Congress had tried repeatedly to repeal the ACA and failed each time. In passing the tax law, many of its members and Donald Trump argued that repealing the tax penalty associated with the individual mandate wasrepealing the mandate itself. Those Senate Republicans who’d opposed ACA repeal, but supported the tax bill, argued that repealing the mandate would not sabotage ACA marketplaces. In short, Congress’s intent was clear. In his opinion, O’Connor has almost laughably tried to rewrite the history that we all lived just last year. Even conservative lawyer Jonathan Adler, who was part of the 2012 legal attack, has called the current case “bananas” and “an exercise of raw judicial power.”
 
Additionally, real-world evidence has made clear that while the 2010 Congress may have been correct that the individual mandate was necessary for the creation of new marketplaces, and we know that removing the mandate makes it harder for some people to find affordable coverage, established marketplaces can stabilize without the mandate even while retaining the ACA’s full array of consumer protections. O’Connor’s decision rests on ignoring everything we now know from the last eight years.
 
Furthermore, the judge did not simply scrap the individual mandate along with the consumer protections that are tied to it, or the financial subsidies that help people purchase insurance. He threw out the entire ACA, declaring unconstitutional everything from nutrition labeling to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). As Kaiser Health News reported, “canceling the law in full … could thrust the entire health care system into chaos.” 
 
Yale Law Professor Abbe Gluck commented that “It’s absolutely ludicrous to hold that we do not know whether the 2017 Congress would have wanted the rest of the ACA to exist without an enforceable mandate, because the 2017 Congress did exactly that when it zeroed out the mandate and left the rest of the ACA standing. [O'Connor] effectively repealed the entire Affordable Care Act when the 2017 Congress decided not to do so.”  

Millions of people benefit from the ACA whether they realize they “have Obamacare” or not—from provisions closing the Medicare donut hole to ensuring that young people can stay on their parents’ plan until age 26 to eliminating annual and lifetime coverage limits. For women, what’s a stake includes contraceptive coverage at no extra cost, guaranteed maternity coverage and protection from being charged more than men for the same health plan. 
 
As Politico noted, “The sweeping court ruling shows how hard it is to re-litigate parts of Obamacare without harming measures that benefit virtually every American, including people who don’t even buy insurance from the Obamacare markets. Even many of the Trump administration’s own health care initiatives, like attempts to lower drug prices, hinge on legal authority derived from the ACA.
 
An unfortunate side effect of the ruling will be to give ammunition to opponents of Medicaid expansion.  As Modern Healthcare reported, "Lawmakers and hospital association leaders in states moving toward expansion, including Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah, worry that opponents will cite the ruling as a reason not to push forward. Expansion advocates have similar anxieties in Alaska and Montana, where Republican elected officials hostile to expansion are considering whether to continue their states' expansion program."

 
Where do things stand now?

The next step for the ACA's defenders is challenging the ruling in the notoriously conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. And after that, the case could be headed to U.S. Supreme Court.
 
But even though there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic about the law’s prospects at both the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court, the history of ACA legal challenges has been fraught with frivolous cases built on far-right fringe legal theories going further than any serious constitutional scholar could have predicted. With your help, we will continue to educate the public about what the ACA means for women and LGBTQ people, and what’s at stake if it’s taken away.

Tuesday
Dec112018

It’s the last week to enroll in ACA health coverage!

 It’s Women’s Week of Action for Open Enrollment!



It’s the last week of Open Enrollment! In most states (see below for a few exceptions), the last day to sign up for 2019 health coverage is this Saturday, December 15
. Still uninsured? Go to healthcare.gov to start shopping for a plan today, or go to localhelp.healthcare.gov to find free enrollment assistance.

So far, enrollment numbers are lower than what we have seen at this time in previous years. That’s largely due to Trump administration’s policies that slashed advertising for healthcare.gov, decreased funding to navigators that do outreach and enrollment work, and shortened the enrollment period to just six weeks. The start of open enrollment on November 1 was also overshadowed by the mid-term elections the following week.  

As a result of all these factors, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found that 3 out of 4 people who are uninsured or buy their own insurance don’t know the deadline to enroll in Marketplace insurance is December 15. Less than a third (31 percent) say they have heard or seen any information about how to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

That’s why Raising Women’s Voices is leading a Women’s Week of Action, starting today, to spread the word about the deadline for enrollment.  Today, (Tuesday, December 11) we will be hosting a Twitter Chat at 3 pm ET/2 pm CT/1 pm MT/12 pm PT.  We will be joined by our partners at In Our Own Voice, National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), Planned Parenthood, Community Catalyst, New Jersey Citizen Action, Power to Decide, Feeding America, Feminist Majority, American Association on Health and Disability, National Partnership for Women and Families, Black Women’s Health Imperative, NFPRHA and Young Invincibles. We’ll be discuss the importance of health coverage for women and our families,  how good coverage can help reduce health disparities and how to avoid those “junk” health plans that are cheaper, but don’t cover maternity care or pre-existing conditions.  Join us and include the hashtags #HerHealth, #GetCovered, and #EnrollByDec15 in your answers!

For this final week, we’ve created social media badges that you can use to remind people to sign up for health coverage while they still can! We have badges emphasizing the upcoming deadline (pictured), which you can find here. We also have that badges that count down the final days of Open Enrollment, which you can find in both English and Spanish.

There are a few exceptions to the December 15 deadline. It’s important to note that in a few states  and the District of Columbia that operate their own ACA health insurance marketplaces,  the deadline for Open Enrollment has been extended beyond Dec. 15:

  • Minnesota – January 13, 2019
  • California  and Colorado – January 15, 2019
  • Massachusetts – January 23, 2019
  • D.C., New York and Rhode Island – January 31, 2019

Let’s give these states a round of applause for doing the right thing, and giving busy people more time to enroll!

Tuesday
Nov202018

What are we thankful for this year?

We’re thankful for the ACA, and your work defending it!

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law of the land, and is likely to remain so with the balance of political power in the House of Representatives shifting to pro-ACA forces for 2019.  Since the passage of the ACA in 2010, the number of uninsured people in our country has dropped by more than 20 million. We are so grateful to all of you who have helped defend this law, which has been game changing for women, LGBTQ people and our families!

For the sixth year, Open Enrollment through healthcare.gov and state marketplaces is in full swing. This week, Raising Women’s Voices and many of our Regional Coordinators are getting the word out to those people most likely to be still uninsured -- members of the African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ and immigrant communities, who remain more likely to lack coverage. We’ll be using seasonally relevant social media messages like the one shown above.

We know many people will be spending time with their families during the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a great opportunity to remind them that getting covered can help you stay healthy for the ones you love. It can also help you avoid bringing financial stress on the whole family if the unexpected happens.
In addition to spending time with our nearest and dearest humans, many of us will be spending time with our nearest and dearest screens! We’ll be posting graphics like those shown below starting the day after Thanksgiving to remind people to visit healthcare.gov and cuidadodesalud.gov for the best deals on health insurance.  Please follow RWV on FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram and help spread the word!

 

 

Get the facts about immigrants enrolling in health coverage

The Trump administration’s proposed changes to the “public charge” rule have frightened some immigrants out of applying for health insurance -- or even using the health coverage they already have. With Open Enrollment Period 6 now well underway, Raising Women’s Voices has created new fact sheets in English and Spanish that give concerned immigrants the information they need to decide whether to apply for health coverage.

Here are some of the important facts immigrants need to know:

1. If you are already a naturalized citizen, or have your green card, you do not have to worry about any risk from enrolling in health insurance.The same is true for immigrants who have protected status, such as refugees, asylees and people who have survived domestic abuse and other serious crimes.

2. Even if you are not in one of the categories described above, you can still apply now for any health insurance for which you may be eligible. Getting health insurance now for you or your family members can help you stay healthy. The proposed change in immigration rules is not in effect now, and it cannot even become policy until many months from now. The rule will not be retroactive to now, so it is ok for you to apply for coverage now if you are eligible. 

3. Only two types of health insurance coverage would be affected, if and when the rule goes into effect next year: regular (non-emergency) Medicaid and low-income subsidies for Medicare Part D coverage. That means you can receive federal subsidies for purchase of a marketplace health plan through healthcare.gov without worrying. Emergency Medicaid, which pays for medical costs if you have a sudden, life-threatening emergency, and Children’s Health Insurance, known as CHIP, are NOT included in the proposed rule.

4. If you are considering applying for regular (non-Emergency) Medicaid coverage, be aware that the proposed rule would only consider Medicaid received for more than 12 months in a three year period in a public charge determination. So, even if the rule does go into effect, receiving Medicaid for less than 12 months in a three year period will NOT count against you.

What is “public charge”? The term “public charge” is used by U.S. immigration officials to describe anyone who relies on the government for subsistence. If someone is determined to be a public charge, they can be denied a visa or a green card. Presently, the only two categories of benefits that are considered in determining whether someone is a public charge are cash assistance (e.g., SSI or TANF) or government-funded long-term institutional care.

The Trump administration’s proposed changes, released on October 10, would significantly expand the types of government benefits that could be considered in a public charge determination, including two forms of health insurance: regular Medicaid and low-income subsidies for Medicare Part D. Also included would be SNAP (food stamps) and housing assistance.  

The new rule is clearly designed to open doors for more highly educated immigrants and shut out those seeking opportunity. It would give preference to those who speak English and earn more money and penalize those with disabilities or lower income. If you would like to submit a public comment on the proposed rule, please start here. You have until December 10.

Wednesday
Nov142018

Election results looking even better!

More Dems win, but racist remarks unacceptable

One week after the election, the political landscape looks even better for supporters of women’s health and the Affordable Care Act than it did just a few days ago. In the U.S. House of Representatives, ACA supporters have gained additional seats in late-breaking West Coast races, while the election of two Democratic women to Senate seats previously held by Republican men in Nevada and Arizona has shrunk Mitch McConnell’s majority for 2019. Now Senate Republicans can—at most—only net a gain of 2 seats, and only if they win both outstanding races.

In Florida, a recount is underway. In Mississippi, incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith (appointed to Thad Cochran’sseat in April) is locked in a special election run-off with former Congressman Mike Espy (D-MS) scheduled November 27. This week, Hyde-Smith, a white woman running against a Black man, was videotaped joking about lynching. Our regional coordinator in Mississippi, the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, issued this statement:

"In a state well known for its shameful history related to the lynching of African Americans, Hyde-Smith has not only shown a repulsive spirit of divisiveness and extremely poor judgment, but she has also shown she is unfit to represent the people of Mississippi. Cindy Hyde-Smith must be held accountable for using words that have cut deep within the African-American community and stirred up an unyielding pain. Therefore, we call for her resignation. Our network of black women needs a leader that will stand up for their families and communities regardless of their skin color. We condemn her unacceptable language and encourage others to speak out as well.”

Instead of apologizing for her remarks, the Mississippi GOP doubled down. In his defense of Hyde-Smith, Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) attacked Black women, labeling legal abortion a form of “genocide.” Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund Executive Director Laurie Bertram-Roberts noted the grotesqueness of his charge: “It is absurd that a governor in a state that has one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the country, where it is one of the most dangerous places for women to give birth—black women to give birth, specifically—would talk about abortion being black genocide.”

RWV at the APHA Conference

 
This week, some of the Raising Women’s Voices staff and a few of our RWV regional coordinators are in San Diego attending the 2018 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now.”
 
Two of RWV’s cofounders, Byllye Avery and Cindy Pearson, were joined by RWV Progressive States Advocacy and Policy Manager, Ann Danforth, and Ena Suseth Valladares, Research Director for RWV’s Los Angeles-based RC, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, for RWV’s panel entitled “2019 and Beyond: Opportunities and Challenges for Women’s Health.” RWV’s presentation explored the substantial – though incomplete – progress we’ve made advancing women’s health under the ACA, and looked at the threats, setbacks, and barriers we withstood in 2017 and 2018, as well as the challenges and opportunities ahead, with a particular focus on women of color.

RWV cofounder Cindy Pearson began by discussing the current state of Medicaid expansion under the ACA. She explained the significance of Medicaid expansion, particularly in undoing the legacy of institutionalized racism associated with original Medicaid. When it was created in 1965, the Medicaid program, unlike Medicare, allowed states to set their own eligibility limits, a power that was used by certain states to reinforce Jim Crow era policies. By expanding Medicaid, the ACA sought to expand coverage to individuals who had previously been excluded from coverage. Even though a Supreme Court decision made the ACA’s Medicaid expansion optional, a number of states adopted Medicaid expansion, and even more continue to do so thanks in large part to the hard work of grassroots activists like our RCs in states including LA, and ME.  
 
Ann Danforth, RWV Progressive States Advocacy and Policy Manager, discussed the state-level opportunities to protect advances for women’s health and LGBTQ health, given ongoing federal threats. She discussed the work being done by RWV RCs to establish state-level reproductive health protections, prohibitions against gender rating and discriminating against women with pre-existing conditions, marketplace stabilization measures, protections for women against “junk” insurance plans that don’t cover important services like maternity care, and protections for transgender people in health care.
 
Ena Suseth Valladares, Research Director for RWV’s Los Angeles-based RC, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, spoke about the barriers that exist for California Latinas in achieving true economic and reproductive justice. Despite significant strides in a numbers of social indicators – including better access to health care services and better health outcomes – Latinas as a group continue to have high uninsured rates; in large part because their jobs do not offer health insurance, they do not qualify for the benefits offered, or they cannot afford the plans that are offered. As part of their work to achieve reproductive and economic justice for Claifornia Latinas, CLRJ and their colleagues have pushed for a number of anti-poverty measures within the past couple of years, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and Paid Family Leave. Despite the legislative progress, there is much more that can be done for Latinas at the state level, such as expanding existing housing vouchers, and creating rent control policies and tenant protections. The recent public charge rule provides an additional barrier to California Latinas seeking health care services.
 
RWV’s cofounder Byllye Avery closed out the panel by discussing how we can make progress in a divided nation by talking to people “on the other side,” who are opposed to health care coverage, reproductive justice, LGBTQ and immigrant rights. The most important thing to do, Byllye said, is to “just really listen to what they’re saying, and what they’re not saying.”  She highlighted the work of two RWV women of color-led RCs, SisterReach and the Afiya Center, talking to “the other side.” Both groups are connecting reproductive justice advocates with the African American reilgious community in Tennessee an Texas through summits, shared projects, and bible study.
 
During the discussion portion of the panel, panelists and the audience talked about the role stories play in changing the hearts and minds of people on “the other side,” including family members, but also policy makers. When asked how we can balance the inclusion of compelling stories with the data and research needed to back those stories up, Ena’s advice was to use stories as “the main course,” and use data as “the seasoning.”

One of RWV’s New Orleans-based regional coordinators, Women With a Vision, was also active at the Conference. Catherine Haywood, WWAV’s Community Health Promoter, presented to a packed room as part of a panel on promoting Community Health Workers as change agents in reducing health disparities or impacting social determinants of health. Catherine spoke about WWAV use of CHWs and community champions to promote the activities of and legitimize the message of Movin’ for LIFE (M4L) – a program to increase healthy living in two low-income, primarily Black neighborhoods in New Orleans, LA. Two part-time CHWs were trained in M4L activities and successfully recruited 88 champions, who extended the work of the CHWs by promoting M4L activities, including walking groups, exercise, dance and cooking classes. “CHWs are a great asset to any program because people who sit behind desks can’t truly know the communities in the way CHWs can,” Catherine told the audience.  
 
APHA’s closing general session: Dying too Soon: A Look at Women’s Health, will feature Linda Blount, President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative – one of RWV’s co-coordinating organizations. The panel will explore issues around premature death in women in America throughout the life span, including through cardiovascular disease, deaths during childbirth, and domestic violence. Linda’s portion of the presentation, entitled “Black is Not a Risk Factor: Racism and Gender Bias in Maternal Health,” will focus on how the disproportionately high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality among Black women result from implicit bias, structural racism, and a lack of understanding of the lived experiences of Black women. Linda will discuss how these factors lead to Black women receiving poorer quality maternal care, and being less likely to have their peri-partum complaints evaluated, and will also offer strategies to improve Black maternal outcomes.

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