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Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst

Anna is a Senior Health Policy Analyst for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women's Law Center where she works to implement health care reform at the state level — with a particular focus on ensuring equitable, affordable access to care. Prior to joining the Center, Anna served as a Policy Analyst at Harbor Health Services, a large network of community health centers headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and home to the first health center in the country. For several years Anna worked to advance evidence-based practices that reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C in New York City and successfully lobbied for increased resources and policy reform. She is a graduate of New York University and later received an interdisciplinary Master's Degree from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

My Take

I Know All About The ACA’s Breastfeeding Benefit, and I Couldn’t Get Services Covered

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: May 26, 2015 at 10:00 am

Last week, the National Women’s Law Center issued the third report in a series examining insurance plan compliance with the Affordable Care Act, State of Breastfeeding Coverage: Health Plan Violations of the Affordable Care Act. Previous reports on women’s health coverage and birth control coverage found extensive violations of the law. The third report examines insurance plan noncompliance with the ACA’s breastfeeding benefits and comes to similar conclusions.

The ACA Is a Huge Step Forward

The ACA made dramatic improvements in women’s health coverage. The ACA ensures that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women, and requires plans to offer women coverage for maternity care and prescription drugs. And they must cover preventive services, such as breastfeeding supports and supplies and birth control, without any copayments, deductibles or coinsurance.

Health Insurance Plans Must Comply With the Law

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5 Reasons Not to Let Obamacare Opponents Turn Back the Clock

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: March 23, 2015 at 01:24 pm

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reached a major milestone. It’s been five years since President Obama signed the landmark law to end discriminatory insurance practices and provide more options for women to get affordable health coverage. Despite over 50 votes to repeal, defund or dismantle the ACA—and several election cycles—the ACA survived its first 5 years, mostly intact. During those years, we’ve made remarkable gains.

Here’s a quick recap of five great things the Affordable Care Act does for women:

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A Big Week for Breastfeeding

You may already know that one of the Affordable Care Act’s great new preventive benefits for women is coverage of breastfeeding supports and supplies. Women with health coverage through the new Marketplaces, and many who have coverage through an employer, are now able to get breast pumps and help from a lactation consultant as they learn to breastfeed, deal with breastfeeding problems and, if they choose, return to work – without any out-of-pocket expense! Breastfeeding benefits both moms and babies, and this coverage helps women overcome some of the problems they often encounter as they start breastfeeding or if they go back to work as nursing mothers.

What you may not know is that women in the military and women in military families, who have health coverage through TRICARE, have not been eligible for this new preventive benefit. But this week, just in time for Memorial Day, both houses of Congress have taken big steps towards fixing this problem.

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Governor of Maine Denies Healthcare for 70,000 Mainers

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: April 16, 2014 at 03:23 pm

Last week, Governor LePage blocked health coverage to hardworking Maine residents by vetoing a bill that would have provided Medicaid to 70,000 people.

Maine is one of 24 states that have not taken federal funding to cover more people in Medicaid. Under the health care law, women and their families in every state are eligible for tax credits to help them afford health insurance, depending on their family income. In states that accept federal money to expand coverage through Medicaid, people with lower incomes will also have affordable coverage. But in states that turn down the money, people with lower incomes (and those who do not meet other strict eligibility criteria) will not get any financial help for health insurance costs. That’s the “coverage gap” too many women and families are facing right now.

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Virginia Lawmakers Must Act Now and Cover More People in Medicaid

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: March 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

Each week, my colleague Stephanie Glover and I take a short trip to Arlington to volunteer as Certified Application Counselors (CACs). We talk to Virginians about the health coverage options available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and help them enroll in an affordable comprehensive insurance plan. It is very exciting to meet new clients each week—all of whom are uninsured—who are eager to learn about their options and obtain coverage.

The best part of the experience is enrolling a previously uninsured family into health insurance that meets their needs and fits their budget. Clients leave the office happy and incredibly thankful to the volunteers. The worst part of this experience is telling clients that, unfortunately, they are not eligible to enroll today. I try to explain they are not eligible to enroll in a private plan because their income is below the poverty level which means they do not qualify for federal subsidies and yet they earn too much income (or fail to meet other eligibility criteria) to qualify for Virginia’s current Medicaid program.

Because Virginia is one of 26 states that have not taken federal funding to cover more people in Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of residents fall into this “coverage gap.” Most clients are confused and do not understand why they cannot enroll—they have all of their tax paperwork and other documentation with them, and are ready to complete the process. They leave the office frustrated and disappointed. Some ask what they should do in the meantime. Others say they will check with the Medicaid office in the summer to see if anything has changed.

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