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Health Care

Governors: Get Your State Off This List

This week’s annual release of Census Bureau insurance data tells us that, once again, all states are not equal. Over 90 percent of women aged 18 to 64 in states like Massachusetts and Minnesota are insured. But, again this year, Texas leads the nation in the proportion of women without health insurance, with nearly one-third of women going without health coverage.

Here is the sad list of the worst states for women’s health insurance coverage: Read more »

New Health Insurance Data: A Revealing Look at Coverage Before The ACA

Today, the Census Bureau released new data about the number of Americans with health insurance. The Current Population Survey (CPS) offers a revealing look at Americans’ health coverage in 2013. The data does not yet reflect the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but provides a baseline to understand who had coverage and from where prior to full ACA implementation, setting us up for some interesting analysis next year.

In brief, too many women remained uninsured in 2013. Overall, 14 percent of women and girls lack health insurance coverage. For adult women 18 to 64 the proportion is even higher; 17 percent of women went without health insurance in 2013. Read more »

National Breastfeeding Month: Celebrating Moms, Babies, and the Affordable Care Act

It’s no accident that the US Breastfeeding Committee (“USBC”) chose August as National Breastfeeding Month. After all, it’s the most popular month to be born in the United States. This year the USBC kicked off #NBM14 by inviting Americans to share in #SixWords what breastfeeding means to them.

The facts are clear. Breastfeeding means: Read more »

Unaffordable Health Care By Any Other Name

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). Read more »

Reproductive Health Care: Good for Women, Good for Families

Next week, advocates from across the country will meet at the White House to discuss issues that are important to working families. On the Center’s list of issues is access to safe and affordable reproductive health services. Reproductive health services are definitely important for a family’s physical health and well-being, since being able to plan and space pregnancies is good for the health of mothers and children, but reproductive health is also crucial for working families’ economic health and security.

When women can control their reproductive decision-making, their educational and professional opportunities and even their lifetime earnings can increase. One study found that women with access to contraception were more likely to be in college and had higher earnings long into their careers, while another [PDF] pointed to contraception as a reason for the narrowing of the wage gap. With access to safe reproductive health care, women are better able to achieve educational and professional goals and support their families and themselves, both emotionally and financially. Read more »

An Open Letter to Tennessee, From One Of Your Own

I love Tennessee. It’s where I grew up; running cross country through amazing forests and watching friends develop amazing musical talents. Life in Tennessee is relaxed, the people are so nice, and I relish each visit back to my home state, whether it is to take my kids to the new park downtown or to go Honky Tonkin with my best friend.

But there are times when I really get sad over Tennessee’s future – like refusing to expand Medicaid and efforts to amend the state Constitution in order to attack abortion access. I am only more troubled by the recent news that Tennessee has become the first state to outright criminalize women who illegally use a narcotic drug and experience a bad pregnancy outcome (if the baby being born is “addicted, is harmed, or dies because of the drug”).

Look, I get why people could support this law – they think it could stop drug using during pregnancy. As one bill co-sponsor explained: “we need to help [pregnant mothers] see the seriousness behind the offense and help them get the help they need.” Read more »

Governor of Maine Denies Healthcare for 70,000 Mainers

Last week, Governor LePage blocked health coverage to hardworking Maine residents by vetoing a bill that would have provided Medicaid to 70,000 people.

Maine is one of 24 states that have not taken federal funding to cover more people in Medicaid. Under the health care law, women and their families in every state are eligible for tax credits to help them afford health insurance, depending on their family income. In states that accept federal money to expand coverage through Medicaid, people with lower incomes will also have affordable coverage. But in states that turn down the money, people with lower incomes (and those who do not meet other strict eligibility criteria) will not get any financial help for health insurance costs. That’s the “coverage gap” too many women and families are facing right now. Read more »

Health Insurance — A Rite of Spring for 2014

The start of spring brings some seasonal maternal responsibilities. My daughter is six, so these tasks include finding the shin guards and cleats that she dumped in a closet after the last soccer game last fall – ideally before the first spring soccer game, not after. Determining if she has outgrown all, or only half, of her warmer-weather clothes. Helping her finally ride her bike with confidence, and without training wheels.

I expect that as kids get older, these springtime responsibilities might change a bit. Maybe I will need to nudge her to keep working on a year-end project or to practice before the spring piano recital. Or to use some caution and common sense during a spring break trip to the beach. Read more »

Survivors of Domestic Violence Gain Access to Health Insurance Tax Credits

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.   Read more »

7 Days, 7 Reasons: Why You Should Sign Up For Affordable Health Coverage

This is the last week of open enrollment for the new healthcare marketplaces. That means you only have 7 days to sign up for an affordable health plan and #getcovered. So I suggest heading over to healthcare.gov right now, before it’s too late. But if you need more convincing, I’ve got 7 reasons why you should sign up for affordable health coverage before the March 31st deadline.

  1. It’s cheap: Duke may have lost, messing up everyone’s bracket, but with subsidies available to help you purchase coverage, you can afford to buy health insurance AND pay into your office March Madness pool. Seriously. 6 out of 10 Americans can get coverage for less than $100 a month.
  2. You’ll Get Preventive Services without Cost Sharing: Admit it, you love getting things you don’t have to pay extra for. Gift bags at the makeup counter, samples at Costco, free shipping from Amazon… And it’s even better when it’s something you actually need.  If you sign up for coverage you’ll be able to get important services like well women visits, pap smears, STD screenings, and contraception with no out-of-pocket costs.