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Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel

Dania is a Senior Counsel for Health and Reproductive Rights. Her work focuses primarily on implementing health reform and expanding access to quality, affordable health care for women and their families. Prior to joining the Law Center, Dania worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Starting her work at SEIU in the research department, she became interested in expanding access to health care to low income families and spent a few years as Deputy Administrator of a health benefit program at SEIU, working to provide affordable health insurance to previously uninsured low wage workers and their families. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), she worked on implementing the law as Associate Director of Health Policy. Her background in the ACA includes insurance reforms, coverage expansions and delivery system reform, with particular expertise in employer benefits and insurance reforms. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

My Take

The Next Effort to Gut Health Reform – A Tale of Two Decisions

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: July 22, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Today, two circuit courts ruled on whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows individuals enrolled in health insurance through the Federally Facilitated Marketplace to receive federal subsidies to help with health insurance costs, specifically premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.

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Unaffordable Health Care By Any Other Name

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: June 19, 2014 at 11:14 am

Women make up a large majority of the low wage workforce — many without access to affordable health insurance . The Affordable Care Act was supposed to change that. However, for millions of women and their families, something called the “family glitch” puts help with insurance premiums out of reach. But it really isn’t a glitch  because the IRS could have interpreted the law differently.

If you have access to health insurance coverage outside the health insurance marketplace (if you have coverage through your employer or a public insurance program such as Medicaid), then you are not eligible for the health insurance tax credits. But there is a special rule for employment based coverage – if your employer offers coverage that is unaffordable or doesn’t provide enough coverage, then you can say no to your employer coverage and enroll in the marketplace with a health insurance tax credit (if you’re otherwise eligible for the tax credit).

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Survivors of Domestic Violence Gain Access to Health Insurance Tax Credits

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 26, 2014 at 02:28 pm

Today, the Administration took important steps to ensure that survivors of domestic violence can access affordable health care. Many survivors of domestic violence have been unable to access the health insurance subsidies because they file separate tax returns from their abusive spouse. As of today, these individuals have access to a special enrollment period until May 31 to enroll in coverage and access the health insurance subsidies [PDF].

There is still more to be done. Women in other complicated circumstances are still unable to access the health insurance subsidies. For example, a woman who was abandoned and has no contact with her spouse will not be able to file a joint tax return. Some married couples have been separated for years without any formal legal separation or divorce and may no longer be in contact. Earlier this week, the National Women’s Law Center sent a letter signed by 49 organizations asking for survivors of domestic violence, abandoned spouses and individuals in other complicated circumstances to have access to the health insurance subsidies.  

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Enroll By March 31: It's a Slam Dunk

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: March 26, 2014 at 01:47 pm

I used to fill out a March Madness bracket as part of the office pool. I had no idea what I was doing. The first year, I had to ask my office mate what the numbers on the bracket meant. I took a chance though. I guessed what would happen. I always lost my dollar.

There are certain things we shouldn’t leave to chance. That includes our health. Guessing as to whether we will need health insurance means taking a chance on our health and our economic stability. If you guess that you don’t need health insurance, then what happens if you get in an accident on the basketball court? A recent study found that, in 2012:

  • Over 8,000 people were hospitalized because of basketball injuries
  • Over half a million people were treated in the emergency room due to basketball injuries.
  • The average medical costs of treating a leg fracture, one of the most common injuries on the basketball court, are about $3,400. The average costs for an arm fracture are over $7,500.
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Pre-Existing Conditions Becoming a Thing of the Past

Posted by Dania Palanker, Senior Counsel | Posted on: December 05, 2013 at 03:16 pm

What is a pre-existing condition? It is a term used by insurance companies to deny coverage to people who have health needs. A pre-existing condition may be a condition a woman has received treatment for previously or a condition she does not even know about when she applied for insurance coverage. It may be a condition that occurred at any time in a woman’s life:

  • From Birth: A pre-existing condition can be a condition a woman has had since birth, like my friend Abby. Abby was born with a congenital condition that has no cure. She has been lucky to always have health insurance through her parents’ plan, but she always had concerns about what would happen in the future. Come January 1, Abby no longer has to worry about her health condition being a pre-existing condition.
  • From Childhood: I was eleven years old when I was taken to the emergency room because I was having trouble breathing. That was my first asthma attack. I had a pre-existing condition as of the age of eleven and if I ever had to apply for insurance on the individual market, that asthma diagnosis would be right there with me. Like Abby, I’ve been lucky to always have insurance through my parents, my work or my school. But I have also known that my life choices were limited by my access to health insurance. Come January 1, I will have a wave of relief to know that it no longer matters that I have a pre-existing condition.
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