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Reform Matters: Resources and Publications

Are you working to make real progress for women and health care? Here are some key resources to help you in your efforts.

From the National Women's Law Center:

  • Nowhere to Turn:How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women, (National Women's Law Center, September 2008)
    Many Americans are unfamiliar with the harsh realities of the individual health insurance market because they receive health insurance through an employer. However, as a number of prominent health care reform proposals consider expanding the role of the individual market, it is important to understand how this system fails women.
  • A Report on the Health Initiatives of State Women's Commissions and Councils, (National Women's Law Center, 2008)
    Women's commissions, women's health councils and offices of women's health have long been working to improve the health of the women in their states through research and analysis, public education campaigns, and in some cases, legislative advocacy. As states grapple with the idea and execution of health care reform, women's commissions and councils are in a privileged position to inform both local leaders and their constituents about the importance of health care reform for women and ensure that reform proposals appropriately address women's unique health needs.
  • Health Savings Accounts, (Testimony of Judy Waxman - National Women's Law Center, May 14, 2008)
    Judy Waxman, Vice-President for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women's Law Center, testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means at a hearing on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). During her testimony, she explained to the Committee about why HSAs are a bad option for low-income women.
  • Making the Grade on Women's Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card, (National Women's Law Center and Oregon Health & Science University, 2007)
    The 2007 Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of women's health, both nationally and state-by-state. It evaluates 27 health status indicators and 63 health policy indicators, and assesses the nation and states' progress in reaching key benchmarks related to the status of women's health, and in meeting key policy objectives.
  • Improving Latina Health through Medicaid Advocacy: A Toolkit, (National Women's Law Center and National Council of La Raza, 2007)
    Latinos currently have the highest number of uninsured of any racial or ethnic group and Medicaid is vital to ensuring health coverage for many low-income Latinos. Expanding and protecting access to Medicaid is a critical strategy for reducing health disparities and ensuring broader access to health care for low-income Latino families. This toolkit emphasizes the role that Medicaid expansions can play in reducing health disparities in the Latina community.
  • Women and Health Coverage: The Affordability Gap, (Elizabeth M. Patchias and Judy Waxman, April 2007- Issue Brief)
    Although men and women face some similar challenges with regard to health insurance, women confront unique barriers to becoming insured. More significantly, women have greater difficulty affording health care services even upon finding health coverage. This issue brief explores why women are in greater need of comprehensive health care but often obtain coverage that is inadequate for their needs - or simply fall through the cracks of our current health system entirely.
  • Women and Health Coverage: A Framework for Moving Forward, (Elizabeth M. Patchias and Judy Waxman, April 2007- Issue Brief)
    This companion to the "Affordability Gap" issue brief evaluates efforts to expand health insurance in terms of their potential to address the particular challenges women face. There is great variation among health care reform proposals with respect to their ability to meet women's needs. Whether reforms are incremental and build on the current health care system or create a new single universal health care system for all, the same issues of affordability and comprehensiveness of benefits must be addressed.
  • Contraceptive Equity Laws in Your State: Know Your Rights - Use Your Rights, (National Women's Law Center, 2007)
    Some states have mandated health benefits that protect a woman's access to safe and reliable contraception. These laws require health insurance plans that cover prescription drugs and devices to include health insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives. This consumer guide outlines those laws - and your rights - to equitable contraceptive coverage.
  • Women and Medicaid Toolkit, NWLC Toolkit for Advocates, (National Women's Law Center, 2006)
    Medicaid is a critical source of insurance for low-income women. This toolkit includes background information on the Medicaid program and its importance to women's health; information on the significance of Medicaid to minority communities; an explanation of the 2006 federal Medicaid cuts and their impact on key health services, including information on cost-sharing and documentation requirements; detailed analyses of the importance of Medicaid family planning services and the significance of Medicaid family planning waivers as a means of expanding access; and state-specific information on Medicaid and its importance to women.

Additional Resources:

  • Young Adults and the Coverage of Contraceptive Services in the Wake of Health Care Reform (Ibis Reproductive Health, July 2009)
    As part of an ongoing statewide project to reduce unplanned pregnancy among young adults in the wake of health care reform in the Commonwealth, Ibis Reproductive Health undertook a systematic review of health plans targeting young adults in Massachusetts to determine the plans' coverage of contraceptive services and counseling. The results raise concerns that young adult-targeted health plans may not provide a full range of contraceptive services.

  • Putting Women's Health Care Disparities on the Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level (Kaiser Family Foundation, June 2009)
    This Kaiser Family Foundation report documents the persistence of disparities between white women and women of color across the country. It provides a rare and comprehensive state-level look at disparities among women of different races and ethnicities on a broad range of indicators of health and well-being, including rates of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, AIDS and cancer, and access to health insurance and health screenings.

  • Women's Health and Health Care Reform: The Key Role of Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care (Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, June 2009)
    That study makes a scientific, data-driven case for a comprehensive standard of health for American women- affordable and stable coverage that enables women to attain good health in childhood and adolescence, maintain good health during their reproductive years, and age well. The report also calls for significant preventive and public health investment. The report's recommendations have been endorsed by 38 of the nation's 50 Deans of Schools of Public Health.

  • Women at Risk: Why Many Women Are Forgoing Needed Health Care, (The Commonwealth Fund, May 2009)
    Drawing from the Commonwealth Fund 2007 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, this study finds that, although women are no more likely than men to be uninsured, they are more likely to forgo needed care because of cost and to have problems paying their medical bills, accrue medical debt, or both. Since women use more health care services than men, they are more exposed to the fragmentation and failings of the current health care system-underscoring the need for affordable and high-quality health insurance coverage that is available to all.

  • Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System Does Not Work for Women, (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, May 2009)
    Comprehensive health care reform is needed to level the playing field and make health care accessible and affordable for all women. In honor of National Women's Health Week, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Health Reform released this report showing how our current health care system is leaving too many women without the care they need.

  • Health Reform: The Cost of Failure, (Urban Institute, May 2009)
    Using the Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model (HIPSM), this report estimates the likely changes in coverage and health care costs that the nation will face in the absence of health care reform.

  • Healthy Competition: How to Structure Public Health Insurance Plan Choice to Ensure Risk-Sharing, Cost Control, and Quality Improvement, (The Institute for America's Future, April 2009)
    This brief explores the merits of a "public plan choice," or whether Americans younger than 65 who lack employment-based coverage should have the choice of enrolling in a new public health insurance plan that competes with private plans in a new national health insurance exchange. With the proper structuring, a public health insurance plan can provide guarantee of secure, quality, and affordable health coverage.

  • The Importance of Establishing a Common Sense Health Care Affordability Standard for Individuals and Families, (Community Catalyst and PICO National Network, April 2009)
    Unless health insurance is affordable, people will not be able to obtain and maintain coverage. Drawing on state and federal policy experiences, this brief proposes levels for adequate premium subsidies and affordable cost-sharing in health insurance plans, and also addresses affordability in the rules associated with any new requirement for individuals to obtain health coverage.

  • Competitive Health Care: A Public Health Insurance Plan that Delivers Market Discipline (Center for American Progress, March 2009)
    This report describes how flaws in the nation's health insurance market can be addressed through the establishment of a public health insurance plan that competes with private insurance plans within a new national health insurance exchange. This type of health reform can increase meaningful choice, promote effective and transparent competition, and establish a publicly-accountable innovation leader within the health insurance marketplace.

  • Rules of the Road: How an Insurance Exchange Can Pool Risk and Protect Enrollees, (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, March 2009)
    Concentrating on adverse selection and consumer empowerment, this report explains the "rules of the road" in designing a functional insurance exchange program. A well-designed exchange must protect vulnerable enrollees, simplify the choice of plans to allow consumers to make intelligent decisions, and promote competition among insurers based on the cost and the quality of their products.

  • Building on a Solid Foundation: Medicaid's Role in a Reformed Health Care System, (Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families, March 2009)
    The general consensus about the direction of health care reform is that the newly reformed system ought to build on the components of the current system, particularly Medicaid. However, the question of how to best build on and strengthen the Medicaid program still remains. Delving into the nuances of Medicaid eligibility, access, and financing, this report argues that strengthening Medicaid should be a national priority with or without major health reform.

  • Women's Health and Health Care Reform, (Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Feb. 2009)
    Outlining how national health care reform can improve access to the information, services and options American women need, this report makes a case for establishing a comprehensive "well-woman standard of care" through health reform, and underscores why such a standard must include reproductive health. This analysis makes a scientific, data-driven case that reproductive health is a key determinant of women's overall health, and therefore, that the treatments and services that promote reproductive health should be part of any health benefits package in a reformed health system.

  • Women's Health and Health Reform: The Economic Burden of Disease in Women (Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, February 2009)
    This report underscores the key roles of both preventive care and continuity of care for women across the lifespan, including primary and specialty care as well as pregnancy care. Further, this report demonstrates that providing continuity of care for women's health would not only result in better health for women, but also may yield cost savings for the U.S. health care system as a whole.

  • The Cost of Doing Nothing, (New America Foundation, Nov. 2008)
    With the recent financial meltdown on Wall Street, some have claimed that health care reform is fiscally unfeasible. Yet this analysis demonstrates how the financial burdens associated with health care and health insurance will only get worse over time if we do not take steps to fix our broken health system. With an interactive state-by-state map of state health rankings, the report details the costs of inaction and makes a compelling argument as to why health care reform is vital to our long-term economic stability.

  • Losing Ground: How the Loss of Adequate Health Insurance Is Burdening Working Families, (The Commonwealth Fund, August 2008)
    The economic downturn is forcing working families across the United States to make tough financial choices, often involving sacrificing needed health care and health insurance. Using data from four years of the Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey, this report examines the status of health insurance for U.S. adults under age 65 and the implications for family finances and access to health care.
  • Seeing Red: The Growing Burden of Medical Bills and Debt Faced by U.S. Families, (The Commonwealth Fund, August 2008)
    The analysis of the 2007 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey finds the proportion of working-age Americans who struggled to pay medical bills and accumulated medical debt climbed from 34 percent to 41 percent, or 72 million people, between 2005 and 2007. In addition, 7 million adults age 65 and older had these problems, bringing the total to 79 million adults with medical debt or bill problems. All income groups reported an increase.
  • How Many are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 and 2007 (The Commonwealth Fund, June 2008)
    With health insurance design incorporating increasing levels of patient cost-sharing, this study finds a sharp increase in the number of "underinsured" people (i.e. those with health insurance that does not adequately protect them against high medical expenses). The rate of increase was steepest among those with incomes above 200 percent of poverty-underinsurance rates nearly tripled for this population, which also reported high levels of health access problems and financial stress.

  • Failing Grades: State Consumer Protections in the Individual Health Insurance Market, (Families USA, June 2008)
    This report -- the result of a 50-state survey of state insurance departments -- reviews the laws that each state has in place to protect consumers who purchase health insurance coverage from the individual market. Findings indicate that protections vary greatly across the country. In many states that lack adequate consumer protections, insurance companies can deny or revoke coverage, refuse to cover treatment for certain conditions, or raise premiums significantly.
  • Identifying and Evaluating Equity Provisions in State Health Care Reform, (The Commonwealth Fund, April 2008)
    This report identifies state-level policies that promote equitable health care access and quality. It also evaluates existing laws, regulations, or reform proposals in five states that are moving toward universal health insurance coverage. The report also addresses innovative strategies such as improving health care provider diversity, distribution, and cultural competence.
  • State Expansions Resource Center, (Families USA)
    This resource center includes an interactive map and state-by-state tables that compare state reform efforts, including health insurance expansion plans targeted at individuals and businesses, private market reforms, and program financing.
  • A Consumer Guide to State Health Reform, (a joint project of Families USA and Community Catalyst)
    This web-based guide will help advocates design health coverage expansions that build upon the current system of public programs, employer-sponsored insurance, and private market options.
  • Health-Care-for-All on the Installment Plan, (Progressive States Network)
    This edition of the Progressive State Network's "Stateside Dispatch" presents a menu of incremental and pragmatic steps that states can take now to address health care access, costs, and quality.
  • Massachusetts Health Reform Toolkit, (Alliance for Health Reform)
    This toolkit includes links to representative articles and documents from across the ideological spectrum, as well as a list of selected experts and websites.
  • Covering Health Issues 2009, (Alliance for Health Reform)
    A comprehensive sourcebook that includes information on many vital health and health policy issues facing our country.