Friday, April 2, 2010

Health Reform is Law. What this means for women & families

You may know the general outlines of what's in the new health reform law. An estimated 32 million uninsured Americans will get health insurance coverage by the end of 2014. And, everyone with health insurance will get protections from insurance company practices like canceling our policies when we get sick, charging women more than men and imposing annual or lifetime limits on the amount of medical care they will cover.
Raising Women's Voices has prepared a simple fact sheet that explains the key provisions of the new law, including when they go into effect.

Pros and Cons for Reproductive Health
Many of us have heard the frustrating news about abortion restrictions in the new health reform law. What will the restrictions mean for women in your state? And, are there some gains for reproductive health under this law? Yes, in fact there are quite a few. Learn more by reading our new fact sheet, "Reproductive Health and Health Reform: Positive and Negative Effects."

Bet you didn't know this!
There are a lot of features of the new law that haven't received much attention. For example:
  • Employers will have to allow nursing mothers break time to express milk. Learn more here.
  • All chain restaurants in the nation will have to post the amount of calories in each item on their menu, a practice that has been eye-opening for those of us living in New York, where it is already required. (Do you know how many calories there are in a frappucino or, even worse, a Whopper?) Learn more here.
  • There will be a new long-term care insurance plan we can join now to receive help paying for home health care if we become disabled. Learn more here.
  • Drug companies and medical device makers will be required to report gifts and payments that they make to doctors and teaching hospitals starting in 2012, and in the following years that information will be publicly available in a searchable on-line database.  Reportable items include food, entertainment, travel and honoraria as well as consulting fees and funding for research or conferences.  The national disclosure standard will help protect us from irrational prescribing and unnecessary medical expenses. Click here to learn more about the Physician Payment Sunshine provisions of the law.

Get the word out to women and families
After the hard fought debates about health reform, there's a lot of misinformation about the legislation out there. The best way to debunk these myths is to bring together community members and give them the facts! We at RWV want to help you do just that.
That's why Raising Women's Voices is embarking on a series of community education sessions about the new health reform law. We are bringing groups of experts into communities to meet with women, who often are the key health decision-makers for their families. We want to explain the many ways in which health reform will help families -- such as providing coverage for 32 million uninsured Americans -- and to note the ways in which the law fell short, such as in covering abortion services and including undocumented immigrants.
We recently hosted such an event in New York at which we discussed what women and families will gain immediately (this year) and those benefits we will see once the law is fully implemented in 2014. We heard from experts who spoke about specific features of the bill and answered some important questions, including:
  • Insurance denials for children with pre-existing conditions will end this year, but what about for adults?
  • How will the bill affect community health centers and public health programs?
  • What are the implications for reproductive health access in the new law?
  •  How will undocumented immigrants get health care, given their exclusion from health reform?
Click here to see more details about our NYC event!
Want to have a session in your community or with your group? If you would like RWV or our regional coordinators to provide such a session in your community, please email us at . We'd love to work with you!

Say thanks!
Not all the members of Congress who voted for health reform were spat on – but some were.  Not all the members of Congress who voted for health reform had shots fired at their district offices – but some did. 
Not all the members of Congress who voted for health reform have gotten death threats – but some have. 
All of the members of Congress who voted for health reform would appreciate a thank you.  And now's the time to say thanks, while Congress is in recess and the members are at home.  Say thanks however you want – call the district office, send a thank you card, send an email message – some folks are even showing up at events with "thank you for voting for health reform" signs. 
  • The vote tally for the House members is here. Find your representative's contact information here.
  • The vote tally for the Senate members is here. Find your senator's contact information here
Whichever way you choose to send your message of thanks – now's the time!

We all know it won't be long before we will be asking these very same members of Congress to help us make health reform better, including respecting women's reproductive rights.  You might even want to say "thanks for your help, and here's what you can do next"!

Raising Women's Voices is a national initiative
working to make sure women's voices are heard
in the Health Reform debate and their concerns are addressed by policymakers
developing national and state health reform plans.

475 RIVERSIDE DRIVE  |  NEW YORK CITY, NY 11010  |  212.870.2010

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