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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

Opposition to Obamacare Thawing, Maine Has a Chance to Cover More People

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: March 13, 2013 at 09:12 am

We continue to watch Governors and state legislators across the country as they make a crucial decision that will have an enormous impact on women and families.

Under the new federal health care law, women and families in Maine who are currently uninsured could get affordable health coverage starting next year. That’s because the law includes money to cover more people through Medicaid. Right now, Maine has an important decision to make—accept federal dollars that have been allocated to cover uninsured individuals through Medicaid or turn down the money and leave them uninsured. If Maine accepts the federal funds to cover more people, not only will it improve women’s health and dramatically reduce the number of uninsured, it will also ensure a smarter use of health care dollars.

A recently released study backs this up! Yesterday researchers from Maine Equal Justice Partners and the Maine Center for Economic Policy released a comprehensive study on this opportunity. Their findings show that accepting federal funds to expand health coverage means thousands of Mainers will receive affordable comprehensive health coverage, and the state will also benefit through a boost to the state economy.

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Major Part of Obamacare Has a Chance in Virginia

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: February 26, 2013 at 11:05 am

It’s been an exciting few weeks for advocates who are urging Governors and state legislators to say yes! Last June, the Supreme Court upheld the health care law but let states choose whether or not to take the Affordable Care Act’s funding for covering more people through the Medicaid program. Ever since then, Virginia advocates have had their work cut out for them—making phone calls, knocking on doors, and educating anyone who will listen about the important benefits to the state of Virginia, hospitals and health systems, and to the women and families who will gain the most.

Last weekend, Virginia took a big step forward. The two-year state budget includes a compromise proposal that could lead to Virginia extending coverage to approximately 350,000 Virginians who currently lack health insurance. Under this proposal, a legislative committee will ultimately determine whether the expansion will move forward. Governor McDonnell is currently reviewing this legislation.

What’s at stake by covering more people?

  • Approximately 169,000 Virginian women would gain health insurance coverage
  • Combined with other reforms in the Affordable Care Act, it could reduce the percentage of uninsured women in Virginia from 17 % to 4 %
  • Accepting the money could save Virginia approximately $424 million in uncompensated care costs over the next ten years
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The Results Are In: NC Should Take the Federal Money and Cover More Hard-Working Women and Families

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: February 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm

A recent study by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine confirmed what many Governors, state legislators, advocates, and the public already know: covering more hardworking people through the Medicaid program is not only the right thing to do, it’s a good deal that makes a lot of sense.

I’ll just reiterate the strong findings of the report:

In summary, a decision to participate in Medicaid expansion, as put forth in the [health care] law, would provide insurance coverage to approximately 500,000 North Carolinians; most of whom would remain uninsured without the expansion. Providing health insurance coverage will help people gain access to the care they need, which can help improve health outcomes. Because of the high federal match rate, the offsets, and the new tax revenues, the state would likely experience a net savings of $65.4 million from the Medicaid expansion over the eight-year time period.

There you have it!

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Our Check *Was* in the Mail

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: July 27, 2012 at 04:24 pm

Thanks, Obamacare!Remember when I told you about a great provision in the health care law requiring health insurance companies to spend your premium dollars on health care and not administrative costs or profits? My last blog post explains the whole deal.

An estimated 12 million Americans will receive rebates from health insurers totaling over $1 billion. And guess what? I got one! Well, sort of.

My health insurance company is CareFirst BlueChoice; it is the plan I receive as an employee of the National Women’s Law Center. A few weeks ago, I received a notice in the mail that CareFirst did not spend the legally required amount of premium dollars on care.

Check out the notice here. The accompanying letter says, “This letter is to inform you that CareFirst BlueChoice, Inc. will be rebating a portion of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act—the health reform law.” [Some lovingly call it ObamaCare] If a health plan spends too much on administrative costs, as CareFirst did, it has to pay a rebate. Maybe next year they will get their act together and just charge lower premiums, which would be good too.

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A Check Could be in the Mail for You

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: May 14, 2012 at 10:37 am

It’s Women’s Health Week. Time to Celebrate! Along with all of the other goodies we’ve been talking about endlessly for the last two years, the health care law is giving us another reason to celebrate: cold hard cash.

That’s right, cash money. Or more like a check. Let me explain.

The health care law signed by President Obama in 2010 to overhaul our health care system included a provision to require insurance companies to spend more of our premiums on our care, not on administrative costs or profits. It is called the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) and it is a federal requirement that insurance companies must spend 80-85% of premiums on health care. When I talk about this with women across the country, one of the first things they say is something along the lines of, “It’s about time!” (That that seems a pretty normal requirement and one that should have been in place a long time ago.) Before the health care law, many insurance companies spent excessive amounts of our premium dollars on administrative costs and profits, including executive salaries, overhead, and marketing—and not on our health care.

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