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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Public charge: Another attack on immigrant families!

Public charge: Another attack on Immigrant Families!

The Trump administration has released the long-awaited full version of the proposed changes to the “public charge” rule. The impact of the rule would be to force immigrant families to choose between receiving vital federally-funded health, food and housing assistance or being eligible to apply for green cards or visas.

How would the rule operate? A public charge is defined as an individual who is “likely to be primarily dependent” on the government for subsistence. Being considered a public charge is especially troubling for immigrants, as it could be grounds for the government to deny immigrants visas or green cards. In the past, immigrants could only be considered a public charge if they had received government cash benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The Trump administration’s proposed changes would widen the definition of public charge to include four additional types of public benefits: non-emergency Medicaid coverage, premium and cost-sharing assistance for low-income people receiving Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, SNAP food assistance and housing assistance (i.e. Section 8 voucher and public housing). In addition, the proposal includes a new income requirement; to overcome the public charge test, immigrants must make at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Level.

The proposed rule would disproportionately harm women and children. Women are the heads of 80% of single parent households, which means they are more likely to have incomes below the required minimum income. Children are also more likely to receive SNAP, which makes them more likely to be considered a public charge. Moreover, many states make an exception for pregnant women and children to the usual five-year bans on non-emergency Medicaid coverage for immigrants. So, those immigrant pregnant women who do enroll in that needed coverage would be deemed a public charge, and thus ineligible to apply for a green card. Do we really want to discourage pregnant women from getting health coverage?
It is worth noting that the final proposed version is not as harmful as previously leaked versions. A lot of the provisions that were most detrimental to women and children have been removed, such as including WIC and children’s health insurance (CHIP) as determinants for public charge consideration. Additionally, the final proposal removes an especially damaging provision that would have penalized immigrants for having other family members, including US-born children, enrolled in public benefit programs. This means that immigrant families can still continue to enroll in WIC and CHIP, and people with citizenship or green cards can enroll in any public benefit programs without endangering members of their families.

However, it is still worth noting that this is an unprecedented change. Public charge has been a long-standing rule that has remained the same for decades. Though this proposal is not yet in effect, it has already created a chilling effect in health care, with many immigrants preemptively dropping out of essential public health programs for fear of being deported. These changes are estimated to impact as many as 24 million immigrants, including 9 million children.

So what are our next steps? The 60 day public comment period is open, and it is a critical time for you to voice your opinions about the repercussions of these proposed changes. The Protecting Immigrant Families coalition has created an action page with guidance and a template that you can use to submit your comments, which can be accessed here.

The Trump administration is specifically asking for feedback on possibly including CHIP as a public charge determinant in the final version. Be sure to include your thoughts on this to help prevent this proposal from being more dangerous than it already is.



Senate Clears Way for Final Kavanaugh Confirmation Vote Following Sham FBI Investigation

Senate Clears Way for Final Kavanaugh Confirmation Vote Following Sham FBI Investigation
Earlier today, the Senate voted 51-49 to cut off debate and move to a final vote on the Supreme Court Left
nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) broke with her party to vote No on “cloture” (the procedure for ending debate and moving to a final vote), while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted Yes. It is not yet clear whether all of the senators voting Yes on cloture today will also vote for final confirmation, which could happen as early as Saturday afternoon.
Since this morning’s cloture vote was procedural, there is still time to call your senators at (202) 224-3121 and let them know how important their final vote against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh is to you. Call your senators even if you think there’s no point. Call your senators even if they have already announced their vote one way or the other. If your senators are doing the wrong thing, they need to hear your opposition and know that their constituents are watching. If your senators are doing the right thing, thank them for standing up for women.
We don’t advise calling senators from other states, which can be counterproductive since it can block the phone lines and allow those senators to claim that the opposition isn’t reflective of how their constituents really feel. What you can do, however, is call your friends and family members in other states. Explain why this issue matters and ask them to call their senators.
At stake in this fight is the future of our country over the course of the next three decades. It’s abortion rights, access to contraceptives, and coverage for pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act. It’s civil rights, free and fair elections, and clean air and water. But it’s also about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court itself.
We already know that Kavanaugh is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court because of his blatant partisanship, dishonesty, and uncontrolled temper. And we believe the brave survivors who have come forward to share their stories, even with the full weight of the White House and Congress lined up to silence them.
In the days preceding today’s cloture vote, the FBI wrapped up a grossly inadequate background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh. As the Washington Post reported, it "appears to have been highly curtailed" by the Trump White House. 
The FBI did not interview Kavanaugh about the sexual assault allegations, even though it’s clear that he lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his past drinking and treatment of women, and even though his own calendar shows he attended a small party on July 1very much like the one Dr. Christine Blasey Ford described.
In addition, the FBI was not allowed to interview Dr. Ford and Julie Swetnick—two of the three women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The FBI was also not permitted to interview  dozens of people who could corroborate Ford's claims or those of Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez. The FBI’s final report is not public, and only a single copy was made available to all 100 senators, locked in a secure reading room. Senators are prevented from revealing what’s in the report but Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made clear that they reveal more than Republicans are pretending: “One: This was not a full and fair investigation. It was sharply limited in scope and did not explore the relevant confirming facts. Two: The available documents do not exonerate Mr. Kavanaugh. And three: the available documents contradict statements Mr. Kavanaugh made under oath. I would like to back up these points with explicit statements from the FBI documents — explicit statements that should be available for the American people to see. But the Republicans have locked the documents behind closed doors.”

As the Senate moves towards its final confirmation vote—in spite of the overwhelming evidence of Kavanaugh’s dishonesty and sexual misconduct—we will continue to make our voices heard and let our senators know that #WeBelieveSurvivors.
Buyer beware! Band-Aid health plans are risky

Starting this month, insurance companies in many states are starting to sell newly expanded “short-term limited duration” health insurance plans. You may see advertisements for these plans and be tempted, because the prices could be low.  But these are really just “Band-Aid plans” that are good only for short-term coverage of very minor health needs. You shouldn’t consider them if you need comprehensive health insurance, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Here’s why. 

These plans don’t have to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comprehensive consumer protections. They are full of fine print excluding coverage for many types of medical care. Moreover, they aren’t required to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and can retroactively drop you from coverage without warning if they think your medical care will cost them too much. 

Short-term limited duration plans aren’t new. But until recently, short-term plans were more thoroughly regulated by the Obama administration in order to better protect consumers. Under the Obama administration, short-term health insurance plans were intended to cover very short gaps in coverage only, and were limited to just three months. Under new rules from the Trump administration, however, these plans can last for up to 364 days.

Short-term plans often exclude coverage for things like prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse services and maternity care. Our Chicago-based Raising Women’s Voices regional coordinator, EverThrive Illinois, researched existing short-term plans and discovered a number of alarming fine-print exclusions.For example, one short-term plan sold in Illinois didn’t cover “non-emergency” hospital stays on Fridays and Saturdays.

Some short-term plans may deny coverage for any condition “for which medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received” in the two years prior to the start of coverage. For example, a San Antonio man with a short-term plan was denied coverage when he developed a kidney disease because his insurer noticed he had tests conducted eight months earlier. Although his doctor’s didn’t determine the exact diagnosis until later, he was denied coverage for his kidney disease

What else is problematic about the Band-Aid plans? These plans also drive up premiums for everyone with comprehensive health insurance, since they siphon off healthy people who want to take the risk of paying less for Band-Aid health insurance. Gary Claxton, Vice President of Kaiser Family Foundation, sums up the short-term plans by saying that they “draw in healthy people and spit them back into the marketplace when they’re sick.” When that happens, we end up with two separate health insurance “risk pools,” and the one with sicker people will have much higher premiums.

Some states have already acted to protect consumers from the harms of Band-Aid plans by regulating them at the state level. Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and most recently California, have prohibited the sale of Band-Aid plans.

But, the Independence Holding Company, one of the largest short-term plan sellers, is selling Band-Aid plans that last up to six months in a number of states, including Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. They are also selling Band-Aid plans that last up to 364 days in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

If you’re thinking about buying a Band-Aid plan, just remember that even though may be cheaper up front, they come with some serious long-term costs. These plans often discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, provide subpar coverage and leave sick people with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. Make sure to ask questions up front about whether your specific medical needs would be covered. 

If an insurance company asks you to fill out a detailed medical history form, you should realize right away that this is going to be a Band-Aid plan. Companies selling comprehensive  ACA plans are not allowed to ask about your medical history or deny you coverage because of your medical needs. 

Even though the Trump administration recently announced it wouldn’t be promoting Band-Aid plans on during the upcoming ACA Open Enrollment Period, individual brokers and insurance agents will still be able to promote them. Consumers may not be given all of the information they need to make an informed decision about what they are buying.

A group of stakeholders – including organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Little Lobbyists and the National Partnership for Women and Families – is pushing back against the rollout of these harmful plans through a federal lawsuit. They have pointed out that the expansion of short-term plans clearly undermines the ACA and will causeirreparable damage to the individual market. A federal judge in DC recently scheduled a hearing for October 26th on the stakeholders’ motion to suspend the administration’s short-term health plan rule. But in the meantime, the rule remains in effect and short-term plans remain on the market.

You may have seen news reports that a handful of House Republicans up for reelection are strategically promoting a nonbinding resolution in an attempt to demonstrate their commitment to protecting people with pre-existing conditions, as they simultaneously work to undermine those very protections through their sabotage of the ACA. The resolution does not give any details as to how it would, in fact, protect people with pre-existing conditions if the ACA were no longer the law of the land.

A Community Conversation about Black Women's Mental and Brain Health

For those in the Richmond, VA, area, RWV co-ordinating organization Black Women's Health Imperative will be sponsoring a free community conversation at Sarah Garland Jones Center next Wednesday, October 10, from 2 - 3:30 PM. The topic of the conversation will be Black women's mental and brain health, and will feature medical and mental health experts who will tackle the mental health issues concerning Black women today. Special guest speakers will include Stacey Brayboy, a representative from the office for VA Governor Ralph Northam. For more information, check out the Facebook page for this event here.



Blasey Ford’s brave testimony should halt Senate GOP rush!

Blasey Ford testimony was credible, and should prompt investigation
After a harrowing hearing on Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today 11-10 to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh over vehement objections from Democrats on the Committee. The vote came less than 24 hours after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified under oath that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) decried the “manic rush” to a vote when “I’m sure nobody doubted her (Blasey Ford’s) credibility.” He said that “our Constitutional obligation at the very least is to investigate the allegations. The first step is an FBI investigation.” Leahy charged that Judiciary Committee “is no longer an independent branch of government. We are a very weak arm of the Trump White House.”
Even though two more women—Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick—have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault on the record and have called for an FBI investigation into their allegations, only Dr. Blasey Ford was allowed to testify.  
Afraid of the optics of having an all-male panel of GOP senators grill a survivor of sexual assault, the GOP hired Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to speak during their allotted time. No GOP senator asked a question of Dr. Blasey Ford. No GOP senator apologized to her for the ordeal of reliving the worst day of her life in front of millions of people.
Her testimony was earnest, polite, endearing, raw, and gut-wrenching. In one particularly powerful moment she described what she remembered most about the attack: “The laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense."
In contrast, Kavanaugh dropped the mask of calm, impartial judge. His shockingly vitriolic and partisan performance revealed a temperament and political agenda completely inappropriate for the Court. His opening statement included conspiracy theories about the Clintons seeking revenge and veiled threats against his political opponents. Throughout his testimony, he yelled at Democratic senators, dodged questions about his drinking and misled about the evidence. In one particularly notable moment, he attacked Senator Amy Klobuchar after she’d talked about her own family’s experience with alcoholism. Jennifer Rubin characterized the exchange this way:
The worst moment was his confrontation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) who questioned him about blackout drinking. She explained that she understood alcohol abuse because her father was an alcoholic. “Have you ever blacked out?” she asked, a reasonable question, potentially designed to see if perhaps Kavanaugh might have blacked out and forgotten the alleged assault. He sneered in response, “Have you?” It was a moment of singular cruelty and disrespect. One saw a flash in the exchange with Klobuchar of the same sense of entitlement, cruelty and lack of simple decency that Christine Blasey Ford allegedly experienced way back then, the memory seared in her brain of two obnoxious teens laughing at her ordeal.
Republicans have refused to re-open the FBI’s background investigation into Kavanaugh or to subpoena Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s high school friend implicated by both Dr. Blasey Ford and Ms. Swetnick. One commentator noted the absurdity of the GOP’s position: “To say the FBI doesn't come to conclusions so you don't need FBI investigations is like saying MRIs don't come to conclusions so you don't need MRI scans. The purpose is to surface information so others can make judgments.”
During the hearing, Kavanaugh himself was given multiple opportunities to say whether he wanted an FBI investigation and he refused to answer each time. The American Bar Association and four Republican governors have called for the vote to be delayed until a thorough, non-partisan investigation is undertaken, while the staunchly anti-abortion Jesuit magazine America reversed their support of Kavanaugh and called for the nomination to be withdrawn.
How did the senators vote? Of the Judiciary Committee’s 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, all voted along party lines, with Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) indicating that thought he voted Kavanaugh nomination out of committee, he will not vote to confirm Kavanaugh without an FBI investigation of the sexual assault allegations.
Senate Democrats have been highly critical of the entire process, and are calling out the highly partisan behavior from not only the Republican Senators, but also Kavanaugh. “I have neer seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner,” Senator Feinstein (D-CA) said about Kavanaugh’s aggressive tone during his testimony. “Judge Kavanaugh used as much political rhetoric as my Republican colleagues, and what’s more, he went on the attack.” Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) echoed these seniments, saying “The Constitution does not say ‘We the Ruling Party.’ It says “We the People.” Senator Coons (D-DE) also reflected that he is “worried about the message we are sending to survivors if we plow through this nomination.”

The full Senate could take its first procedural vote on Saturday with a vote on confirmation occurring Tuesday. Key votes will come from Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Call your senators today! Tell them to stop the rush to confirmation for Kavanaugh and demand a thorough investigation into the allegations brought forward against him.  The number is (202) 224-3121
Blasey Ford’s testimony has prompted others to disclose assaults.  Even as the vote remains uncertain, it’s clear that we’re in the middle of cultural sea change in how survivors are viewed. On C-SPAN, callers were describing their own long-hidden assaults, while around the country, women and men were talking to loved ones for the first time. On Fox News, conservative journalist Chris Wallace shared, “Over the course of this week, I think like a lot of American families, my family has been discussing this and disagreeing and arguing about it. Two of my daughters have told me stories I had never heard before about things that happened to them in high school—and hadn’t told their parents. I don’t know if they told their friends. Certainly they never reported it to the police.”
Raising Women’s Voices at Community Catalyst Convenings!

This week, some of the RWV staff and our regional coordinators have been gathered in Atlanta for the Annual Southern Health Partners (SHP) Convening and Advocates Convening, both organized by Community Catalyst. The Southern Health Partners project works to support Southern advocates to use this regional framework to improve and defend health care access, affordability and quality; expand access to Medicaid; protect consumers and address substance use disorders and other local and state health policy issues.
RWV’s Regional Field Manager, Kalena Murphy, and Progressive States Advocacy and Policy ManagerAnn Danforth, co-facilitated a panel entitled “Trusting the Experts: Grounding Your Health Justice Work in Lived Experiences.” The session featured Marsha Jones, Executive Director and founder of the Afiya Center, RWV’s Dallas-based RC, and Julie Warden, Communications Director for WV FREE, our Charleston-based RC, along with Gerrelda Davis, Executive Director of the Louisiana Primary Care Association. Presentations and discussion focused on how to make sure the lived experiences of diverse consumers are centered in work to identify health problems and craft effective policy solutions.
Speakers shared best practices about how to hear from those communities we don’t belong to, which often means taking a back seat and acting as an ally to elevate the voices of those who are directly affected. It also requires that we are aware of different power dynamics, such as those linked to race, class and gender.
In order to work effectively with the community, advocates must “know your audience,” advised Marsha Jones (pictured at right). Advocates need to have a nuanced understanding of the communities with which they are working, and should know how to relate to members of the community. “And if you don’t know your audience, then get someone who does,” Jones said. To ensure that members of the community are the ones creating and shaping policy change themselves, she encouraged the audience to reject the traditional notion of “empowerment.” “I don’t believe in empowering. I believe in co-powering,” she said. An advocate’s role isn’t to give power to members of the community, but instead to tap into the power that’s already there, she said.
On Thursday, RWV Co-founder Lois Uttley (who directs Community Catalyst’s Women’s Health Program) facilitated a panel discussion of “Disparities in Women’s Health: Threats and Strategies.”  Lisa Stand, Senior Policy Analyst for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), described the numerous threats to women’s health coming from the Trump administration, such as the proposed “gag rule” on Title X providers, and the disproportionate impact on low-income women, women of color and LGBTQ people.

Catherine Haywood, Community Health Promoter for Women with a Vision (a New Orleans-based RWV regional coordinator) discussed the challenges we will be facing in the upcoming Open Enrollment 6, given Trump administration actions attempting to undermine the Affordable Care Act, including slashing navigator funding. She described how she and colleagues at WWAV work to build trust with community members and then offer advice on why people should enroll in health insurance and how to go about doing it.
Kwajelyn Jackson, Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center (RWV’s Atlanta-based regional coordinator) focused on the crisis of rising maternal mortality among Black women, and what can be done to address it. Jackson is an advisory board member to the national Black Mamas Matter Alliance, which has been working to raise the visibility of the problem and seek solutions through education, improvements in health practice, intensified monitoring by maternal mortality review boards  and other approaches.



Sexual assault in the national spotlight

Will allegations against Kavanaugh be investigated before a SCOTUS vote?

The allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are shining a national spotlight on the incidence of sexual assault, especially when the survivors are teenagers, and spurring an array of #WeBelieveSurvivors actions. Girls ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be survivors of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault, according to statistics from RAINN, the national sexual violence hotline.  But often, these attacks remain an ugly secret, haunting women and girls who are reluctant to come forward. More than 60 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to police.

On Sunday, the Washington Post reported that California psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had credibly accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault and attempted rape when they were both in high school. As reported in the Post, significant circumstantial evidence supports Dr. Blasey Ford, who described the attack to therapists in 2012 and 2013, long before Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to vote on the nomination today, with a vote in the full Senate planned for next week. At first, Republicans attempted to muscle their way through. When that became untenable, they hastily announced a hearing for this coming Monday, September 24, allowing little time to investigate the allegations beforehand.
Dr. Blasey Ford has called for an FBI investigation, and has said she will not testify on Monday. But this afternoon, it was reported that she has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she “would be prepared to testify next week” although not on Monday, so long as senators offer “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” according to the New York Times. She has beenreceiving death threats, and her family has reportedly moved out of their home. As of this writing, committee Republicans are refusing to subpoena conservative writer and high school friend Mark Judge—an allegedparticipant in the attack— and are refusing to ask the FBI to re-open their background investigation on Kavanaugh. They are also refusing to allow corroborating witnesses to testify, including those who could testify to Dr. Blasey Ford’s character.

How can we send the message that #WeBelieveSurvivors?

Protestors gathered outside Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley’s office this morning and social media channels were full of #BelieveChristine messages.  Today and tomorrow have also been designated as national call-in days, with SEIU offering a toll-free hotline (866-426-2631).

Let your Senators know that there must be a thorough, independent investigation of the  allegations against Kavanaugh before any vote on his nomination!
On Monday, the #SAVESCOTUS coalition has scheduled a variety of protest actions as the Judiciary Committee meets, most likely without Dr. Blasey Ford present. The sponsoring groups are asking people to register here, if you plan to show up and participate in the events taking place in the Hart Senate Atrium in Washington, D.C. starting at 10 a.m.  From 11 a.m. to noon, there will be an event in the atrium featuring survivors of sexual assault, #MeToo movement leaders and celebrities and leaders of many national women’s organizations. From noon to 1 pm, there will be a march to the Supreme Court for a symbolic collective action.
At 1 pm Eastern time on Monday, the coalition has called for a national walkout and moment of solidarity with Dr. Blasey Ford.  Participants are being urged to wear the color white and capture a photo of you and your allies walking out of work, classrooms or other places to share immediately on social media using the hashtag#BelieveSurvivors.  Want to organize an event in your community? Check out the “We Believe Survivors” toolkit here.

What are Kavanaugh and his supporters saying?

Kavanaugh’s boosters, for their part, have sought to minimize the allegations, tacitly accepting their credibility but arguing that attempted rape shouldn’t be disqualifying for a Supreme Court post if it happened long enough ago.
Kavanaugh himself has “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegations altogether—a position that may be difficult to maintain under oath as senators question him about the hard partying and underage black-out drinking that both he and Judge have acknowledged in the past. In a 2015 speech at Catholic University, for instance, Kavanaugh joked: “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That's been a good thing for all of us, I think." That line was missing from the speech transcript he submitted to the Judiciary Committee earlier.
Notably, this isn’t Kavanaugh’s only association with sexual misconduct and violence against women. Kavanaugh’s longtime mentor on the federal court, Judge Alex Kozinski, was forced to retire early after more than a dozen women described sexual harassment and groping. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the 1990s, Kozinski’s son clerked for Kavanaugh last year and the two have remained close. Kozinski’s reputation was widely known—women law students were warned to avoid clerking for him—in part because he ran an email list for law clerks, judges and attorneys in which he shared incredibly vile sexually explicit material. Then there is Kavanaugh’s friendship with disgraced senior White House aide Rob Porter, whose violent physical abuse of his ex-wives was known to the White House for a year before it became public. Porter got his White House gig on Kavanaugh’s recommendation.
Further affecting Kavanaugh’s credibility is significant evidence that he lied to Congress under oath during his previous confirmation hearings about a host of other issues, including whether he knowingly used stolen documents, was involved in vetting radical judicial nominee Charles Pickering and had defended the Bush administration’s illegal use of torture. 

How are senators responding?

Three Senate Democrats—Doug Jones (AL), Patrick Leahy (VT), and Richard Blumenthal (CT)—have questioned whether the White House knew about the allegations beforehand.Writing to White House Counsel Don McGahn, they noted the cover-up of Porter’s history of violence towards women and the suspicious timing of a letter signed by 65 of Kavanaugh’s high school acquaintances designed to discredit the allegations. (A number of Kavanaugh’s character witnesses have declined to reaffirm their support on the record after the allegations came to light.)
In contrast, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) referred to the allegation of attempted rape as “a little hiccup” in a conference call with “VIP” supporters, before assuring them “we’ll get through this and we’ll get off to the races.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) seemed to echo the White House’s talking points rejecting the need for an FBI investigation and hinting that if Dr. Blasey Ford refuses to testify without one, the Kavanaugh confirmation should move forward.
Every woman in America understands what Republicans are trying to do to Dr. Blasey Ford -- and we aren’t going to stand for it.  The Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee are trying to drag out Dr. Blasey Ford without her consent and on their own terms, take it or leave it. Every woman understands what that feels like.
Kavanaugh has the potential to shift the balance of the court on issues critical to women’s health for an entire generation. If he is confirmed and proves to be the pivotal vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, all three women on the Court will have voted to uphold abortion rights while two of the five men voting to take those rights away will have been credibly accused of grave sexual misconduct.

Why don’t victims of sexual assault come forward sooner?

Why didn’t you come forward sooner? This question – faced by countless sexual victims, and now by Dr. Blasey Ford --  is rooted in misconceptions about abuse, stigmatization and trauma relating to sexual violence. It is very common for survivors to delay sharing their trauma because of feelings of shame and denial, fear of what will happen as a result of sexual violence and low self-esteem. Survivors are also deterred from speaking out due to a lack of information about sexual violence, issues of memory loss from being drugged and having a history of being sexually violated.

How can we support those experiencing sexual trauma and work to prevent sexual violence? RAINN provides 24/7 hotline services online and by phone at 800-656-HOPE. They offer a range of services including education on the warning signs of sexual violence for different age groups and demographics as well as prevention services. To learn more visit:


New Black Women’s Health Policy Agenda!

Black Women’s Health Policy Agenda to be released today

The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) is releasing Black Women Vote: The 2018 National Health Policy Agenda today at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference. The agenda includes policy positions and recommendations, as well as a feature that will be especially useful during this fall’s election season: a two-page, fill-in report card for voters to assess candidates’ policy positions on key health issues related to Black women.

“We are excited to release this first-of-its-kind policy agenda, which offers our nation a framework for addressing health inequities for Black women and girls," said Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of BWHI. "We want to provide voters with a way to assess candidates for office at all levels on issues that are important to Black women, such as ensuring access to quality health care and protecting an individual’s right to make personal decisions about reproductive health.”

BWHI, which is one of the three national Raising Women’s Voices coordinating organizations, produced the agenda with support from Planned Parenthood, In Our Own Voice, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, U.S. Senator Doug Jones and U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly.  The agenda will be unveiled at Rep. Kelly’s panel, “CBCF Health Braintrust: Truth and Reconciliation in Health,” and Rep. Danny K. Davis’ CBCF-ALC Community Health Centers’ panel entitled "Breaking Down Barriers and Closing the Health Care Gap for Black Women."

The agenda includes in-depth policy positions and recommendations under four main pillars: Access to Quality and Affordable Healthcare, Equitable Responses to Public Health Emergencies, Sufficient Diversity in Clinical Research, and Increased Funding to Support HBCUs (historically-black colleges and universities). The first pillar asserts that Black women’s health outcomes depend on the accessibility, availability and affordability of quality health care. Access to quality, affordable care will allow health care providers to detect and treat health issues more effectively in Black women, which can potentially lead to a reduction and, hopefully, elimination of health disparities impacting Black women.

BWHI seeks to generate and leverage evidence that strongly supports the prioritization of the following policy and community-level issues for Black women and girls: the preservation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including meaningful and affordable insurance coverage; strengthening of Medicaid and protection of Medicare; patient access to affordable prescriptions; access to high quality maternal health resources; reproductive health, rights and justice (Title X, access to affordable contraception, access to safe, legal abortion, comprehensive sex education, access to care for endometriosis and uterine fibroids); access to cancer prevention, screening and treatment services (for breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer); improved cardiovascular health; and education and advocacy for preventive and diagnostic resources (for diabetes, HIV/AIDS, sickle cell anemia and mental health).

You can download Black Women Vote: The 2018 National Health Policy Agenda for free on the Imperative’s website,, starting today. Any questions and comments on the agenda should be directed to the BWHI Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, Tammy Boyd (
What’s the latest on the SCOTUS nomination?
On Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously blocked Democratic efforts to access documents from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that the White House has kept hidden. Even though Kavanaugh has signaled that he would protect the president from investigation, two of Donald Trump’s most vocal Republican critics, Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Ben Sasse (R-NE), joined the party-line vote in committee.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s lone Republicans who profess to be supportive of abortion rights -- Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) -- have indicated they are likely to support the nomination, claiming that Kavanaugh won’t be the deciding SCOTUS vote to gut reproductive rights. Several Senate Democratic conservatives -- including Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) -- have been vocal about their support of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but they have thus far refused to say how they will vote on Kavanaugh, despite his clear hostility to the ACA.
The Senate Judiciary committee will vote on Kavanaugh next Thursday morning, September 20, teeing up a vote by the full Senate during the week of September 24. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will join the Court before its new session begins October 1. 
On Monday, September 17, disabled women from across the country will come together to fight for the right to control their own bodies, live in their own homes and the keep their health care. Non-disabled allies are welcome to join as supporters. The group will be using the hashtags #SaveRoe #HomesNotInstitutions #DisabledWomenResist #CancelKavanaugh. On Thursday, the Save SCOTUS coalition will be lining the halls outside of the Judiciary Committee hearing room to demand senators #StopKavanaugh. (Please note NO signs are allowed inside the building.)
And, of course, it’s absolutely critical to keep up a drumbeat of calls in senators’ offices. You can reach Senators by calling 202-224-3121.
Renewed GOP threats to repeal the ACA!
Republicans have made clear that if they retain control of Congress after the mid-term elections, they will make another attempt to repeal the ACA and gut Medicaid.This week, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise told the Fox Business Network, "We’ve got to hold the House, but if we get more Senate seats, which I think we will, we’ve got to go back to health care. Obamacare’s only getting worse. … And [we’ll] transform Medicaid, which is the most failed part of health care."
Scalise, you may recall, was seriously wounded by a gunman last year and recovered with the help of his government-funded health care through the ACA. In his home state of Louisiana, 473,900 people gained coverage through Medicaid expansion, driving down the state’s uninsured rate from one out of every four people to one of out of nine.
Vice President Mike Pence told a campaign rally in August that, “We made an effort to fully repeal and replace Obamacare. And we’ll continue. With [Republicans in the Senate], we’ll go back to that.” And Axios quoted a “senior GOP aide” as saying Republicans won’t describe their next attack on health care as “a cutting Medicaid exercise.” Rather, he argued, describe it as “a 'screw the blue states' exercise and block grant to states.”  Two Republican Senate candidates running against ACA supporters are attorneys general pushing the court to revoke the ACA’s protections for preexisting conditions.
The Protect Our Care Coalition is launching a nationwide bus tour this fall to hold repeal-and-sabotage Republicans accountable. Kicking off in Portland, Maine, on September 24, the bus (“Care Force One”) will make 48 stops across 23 states, covering a total of 11,303 miles. The bus tour schedule is available online, along with ways to get involved. Check it out and meet the bus when it comes to your state!


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