"My best friend has MS and my daughter has a heart murmur. I worked to support passage of health care reform because I believed they would be given the best medical care based on their doctor's recommendations - not politics. Please stand up for women's health."
This is just one of the more than 900 messages YOU sent to our leaders in Washington. When we learned that the abortion coverage would be excluded from high-risk pools (also known as pre-existing condition insurance plans), we mobilized you to action and you responded!
We asked you to submit comments to President Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius telling them that health reform should safeguard women's health, not deny coverage to women with serious medical conditions who must end pregnancies that are threatening their health. You responded by the hundreds and sent your thoughts, in your own words, directly to Washington. Here are some of the things you said:
"Dear Mr. President, I want women who are insured in the new high-risk pools to have COMPLETE reproductive health care included in their benefits. The women with pre-existing conditions are among those who are more likely to need abortion services to protect their health. Protecting their immediate lives is not enough. We must stand with them in making decisions that protect their health and the health of their families."
"Abortion is the most common surgical procedure women receive. At a time when the country is on the cusp of implementing nationwide health-insurance coverage, it is unacceptable to treat abortion care differently in the new high-risk pools."
"The abortion restrictions in the Pre-existing Conditions Insurance Plans deny much needed care for women with serious health conditions that require them to terminate pregnancies. It is discriminatory and a glaring contradiction to the spirit of health care reform; it denies needed care to the women who need it most."
Thanks for raising your voices and sharing your perspectives with our leaders!
New poll shows that Americans support access to birth control in health insurance
From our colleagues at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, recent survey data show that 71 percent of voters believe that contraception should be covered in our insurance without co-pays. In addition, the survey found that access to affordable birth control is a serious issue for many people: one in three women voters (34 percent) have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives. For young adult women, who are most likely to experience an unintended pregnancy, more than half (55 percent) experienced a time when they could not afford to use birth control consistently.
Raising Women's Voices recently gathered the support of 60 organizations, representing diverse women, families and communities throughout the United States and filed comments asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking HHS to recognize that contraception is preventive health care and to eliminate the unnecessary and unreasonable delays that are keeping women from getting access to this important health service. You can see a copy of the letter with the full list of organizations signed on here.
The recent polling data supports what women know– there is broad public understanding of the fact that contraception is an essential part of preventive health care for women. The letter also tells Secretary Sebelius that:
- Removing co-pays and deductibles for preventive health care is tremendously important to women, and we strongly support access to preventive care;
- Comprehensive contraceptive care improves both maternal and children's health;
- HHS must eliminate the unnecessary and unreasonable delays that are currently postponing women's access to contraceptive care without co-pays and deductibles.
- Contraception should be added to the list of preventive services for which there are no co-pays.
- Don't allow uncessary delays in adding contraception to this list.
Six months later – do you know where your health care is?
In a recent blog post, Raising Women's Voices' Cindy Pearson observes that the initial misconceptions about the health care reform law still persist. As spring turned into summer and summer turns into fall we continue to encounter people who do not know what the new health reform law means for them and their families.
If you want to learn about the law and teach your familiy and friends about it, Raising Women's Voices has created fact sheets which explain what women will get in health reform. We also recently developed an organizing guide and a fact sheet for young adults who want to stay on their parents' health plans. We are always on the lookout for new resources that explain health reform in simple terms. A new brochure from Consumer's Union helps us out: Health Reform: The First Six Months was written by the staff of Consumer Reports Health to give consumers easy-to-understand information about what the new law means. The brochure is divided into several sections, each of which explains a major component of reform, like ending lifetime and annual benefit limits, or the new rules that mean sick children can't be denied coverage. You'll still need to turn to Raising Women's Voices for information specific to women, which is not included in the brochure, but to get the conversations started, this resource is very helpful. It is available for free in English and Spanish.