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Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy

Karen Davenport

Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy at the National Women's Law Center, has focused her career on advocacy, research and public policy development dedicated to improving Americans' access to health care. Before joining NWLC, she worked as a Research Project Director and Lecturer in the George Washington University's Department of Health Policy, and as the Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress, where she directed health policy research and advocacy, with a particular focus on health care reform. As a Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she developed and managed national programs dedicated to increasing health insurance coverage for children and families and improving long-term care financing and services for frail elders and people with disabilities. As a Legislative Assistant to Senator Bob Kerrey, she was responsible for staffing the Senator's work on Medicare, Medicaid, public health, welfare and social issues. Her earlier federal experience includes serving as a specialist in Medicaid legislation for the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). Davenport earned an MPA from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a BA in political science from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

My Take

The ACA is Working. We Have Data.

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: September 16, 2015 at 04:32 pm

In 2009, as the United States Congress began to shape the legislation that became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 14.5 percent of women and girls lacked health insurance. Women between the ages of 18 and 64 were even more likely to be uninsured, with more than 19 percent of these working-age women going without health coverage. And women of color fared even worse – for example, 38 percent of working-age Latinas were uninsured.

But what a difference five years can make! Or more specifically, what a difference the passage and implementation of landmark legislation can make.


Behind the Numbers: Health Insurance

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: September 14, 2015 at 11:18 am

On September 16th, the Census Bureau will release new data on poverty, income, and health insurance in the United States in 2014. As a preview to this red-hot data, we outline what we expect to learn about health insurance — including the first year of Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation.

Where does this data come from?

Once a year, the Census Bureau includes additional questions on health coverage and income within their monthly Current Population Survey. This supplement is known as the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The ASEC questions regarding health insurance explore whether each member of the respondent household had insurance coverage throughout the previous calendar year, and if so, what kind of coverage. According to the Census Bureau, the ASEC is the most widely used source of data on health insurance coverage in the U.S.


Health Insurance Companies Leave Women Without Critical Coverage

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: April 30, 2015 at 04:06 pm

Yesterday, the National Women’s Law Center issued an extensive report on insurance issuers’ compliance with Affordable Care Act requirements for women’s health coverage. We found violations in health plans offered in all 15 states in our study — which tells us that women covered by other issuers, and in other states, are probably also being denied coverage for the critical women’s health services guaranteed by the law.

The ACA made dramatic improvements in women’s health coverage by ensuring that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women, and requiring plans to offer women coverage for critical health services like maternity care, birth control and prescription drugs. But these guarantees ring hollow when insurance issuers are able to offer coverage that violates these requirements.


The Affordable Care Act — Latest Data is a Good News Story

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: April 14, 2015 at 04:18 pm

Is it working? In the health care context, you might ask this about a prescription drug, a chemotherapy regimen, or a rehabilitation plan. But we don’t really need to ask that any longer about the Affordable Care Act. According to the latest Gallup-Healthways survey, the uninsured rate among American adults has fallen to 11.9 percent — a drop of more than 5 percentage points since the end of 2013, which was right before coverage began through the ACA’s health care Marketplaces.

While it is exciting enough to see the uninsured rate for American adults fall by nearly one-third, it is even more exciting to see that the groups most likely to lack insurance — low-income Americans, Latinos, young adults and African Americans — have seen the most change under the law. The good folks at Gallup-Healthways haven’t broken down their data by gender, but we do know that 54 percent of Marketplace enrollees are women — which tells us that many of the individuals with new coverage are likely to be women.


SCOTUS and Medicaid: Another Threat to Women’s Health Care

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: April 01, 2015 at 05:23 pm

In a 5-4 ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court decided that health care providers cannot sue state Medicaid programs to enforce federal Medicaid law. In Armstrong v. Exceptional Child, Medicaid providers for individuals with developmental disabilities had sued Idaho over payment rates that, they argued, violated requirements in the Medicaid statute that require states to pay participating providers rates that ensure patients’ access to services.