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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

ObamaCares about Moms!

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: May 13, 2012 at 09:22 am

This blog post is a part of NWLC’s Mother’s Day 2012 blog series. For all our Mother’s Day posts, please click here.

The new health care law does some amazing things for mothers. Before you even become a mom, the health care law will make sure women have affordable health insurance. Once you have that coverage and are thinking about having children, the health care law ensures you have access to preventive services at no additional out of pocket costs to you. These preventive services will provide an opportunity to screen for conditions and prepare yourself for pregnancy. Once you are pregnant—congratulations!—the health care law ensures you will have prenatal and maternity care. (Before the health care law, insurance companies could drop people when they got sick; and most insurance coverage in bought in the individual market did not include maternity care. What a shame!).

The health care law will make sure that, during your pregnancy you can receive the care you need to stay healthy. (In fact, the health care law will require screening for gestational diabetes for high risk mothers.)

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How Often Do We Have to Do This? Another Attempt to Take Away Contraception

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: April 30, 2012 at 05:27 pm

Apparently we have to keep fighting for basic health care. On Friday the Colorado state legislature took up a measure that would have a lasting impact on women’s access to health services, such as contraception.

The Colorado Senate Memorial 12-003 calls upon Congress to enact the Respect for the Rights of Conscience Act of 2011. This extreme bill introduced in Congress gives virtually limitless and unprecedented license to any employer or insurance plan, religious or not, to exclude coverage of any health service, no matter how essential, as required by the federal health care law.

In fact, this legislation was recently repackaged as the Blunt Amendment and attached to a routine transportation bill. Fortunately, this extreme measure was voted down by the U.S. Senate. As an aside, one of the Republican Senators who voted for the Blunt Amendment—Senator Murkowski—realized, after the vote, the extreme nature of the Blunt Amendment and now says she regrets her vote.

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Giving Women Maternity Care is Illegal. Really?

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: April 23, 2012 at 05:30 pm

We all know that the health care law signed by President Obama in 2010 has its detractors. It’s a shame. The law goes a long way to expanding access to health care for women. It’s not perfect, but the law does some really important things, like ending gender discrimination in health care and making sure insurance coverage includes services women need like maternity care. But, a majority of Missouri State Representatives do not agree with me. In fact, they loathe this law so much that the House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would make it illegal to implement the health care law. The bill states, “Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government who undertakes any act within the borders of this state that enforces or attempts to enforce any aspect of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”

Wow, a class A Misdemeanor for implementing the health care law? This is serious stuff. And it’s pretty unfortunate because Missouri could stand to improve health care access for women.

Here is what’s not working in Missouri: 100% of health plans in the individual market in Missouri charge women more for the same health coverage than if they were men and no health plans in the individual market provide maternity services for women.

These policies should be illegal, and under the health care law, they will be.

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Prevention > Politics. EC = BC.

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: March 28, 2012 at 03:37 pm

Months later, I am still very concerned about the decision by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to overrule a judgment by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to expand over-the-counter availability of the morning-after contraception Plan B One Step. Anyone who is concerned about unintended pregnancy must support increased access to a range of contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception (EC).

The impact of unintended pregnancy among young women is staggering. Teen pregnancy, which is at unacceptably high levels in the United States and is higher than most other developed nations, has far-reaching consequences well into adulthood. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of old, versus about 90% of women who had not given birth during adolescence. And, dropping out of high school alters a young woman’s life for decades, and perhaps even generations. Why then would we not do everything we can—use every tool at our disposal—to increase access to emergency contraception? The stakes are too high, reducing unintended pregnancy is too important.

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A Change is Gonna Come, and It Finally Has…

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: January 27, 2012 at 04:01 pm

Yesterday I had the pleasure of gathering with several women who shared very personal stories about how they have struggled in our current health care system. I also heard a lot about how the new health care law is helping women in so many important ways.

Robyn, a mother of three shared her story about her son, Jax—a delightful cutie who was possibly the best behaved child I have ever seen (not a peep in over an hour!)—who was diagnosed with a genetic disorder. Jax would have likely reached a lifetime limit on health coverage but, thanks to the health care law, Robyn does not have to worry about that. Instead of constantly worrying about her son’s coverage and her family’s financial stability, she can instead enjoy her three beautiful children and continue working at a job she loves.

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