They passed a very similar bill, SB 353, that changed the content only slightly. But the process was still a problem – like the first bill, the new version contains extreme abortion restrictions tacked on to completely unrelated matters. The first one was tacked onto a bill prohibiting the use of sharia law. This one? Tacked onto a bill relating to motorcycle safety. The current bill was introduced in committee on Wednesday without public notice and quickly moved to the floor, where it passed the next day. Now it heads to the state Senate for consideration, where it is expected to pass. Read more »
Turns out Texas and Ohio are not alone in launching last minute attacks on women’s health care – North Carolina now joins the ranks. In North Carolina, anti-abortion legislators are flying under the radar by tacking on egregious abortion restrictions to a completely unrelated bill. HB 695 was essentially a ban on applying foreign law and in particular Sharia law in North Carolina matters. Yet, overnight this bill was transformed into a sweeping anti-abortion bill, which contains multiple provisions that weren’t otherwise moving through the legislature.
The bill popped up in the State Senate without public notice on Tuesday evening and today the Senate passed the bill. The bill attempts to shut down abortion clinics by imposing unnecessary, costly, and burdensome requirements – just one clinic in the state could meet the requirements. Read more »
A number of states have taken important steps forward this year to expand access to high-quality early learning programs, according to a new National Women's Law Center fact sheet. While some states' budgets are still being debated, at least sixteen have already increased funding for child care and early education, and at least another eight are considering proposals for additional funding.
Progress was made in a wide spectrum of states, including both states already providing substantial support for early care and education as well as states that had not previously made significant investments in this area. Indiana and Mississippi, which had been among the ten states that did not fund prekindergarten programs, established new prekindergarten programs, with Indiana investing $2 million and Mississippi investing $3 million. Michigan increased funding for its existing prekindergarten program by $65 million (60 percent), which will be used to serve at least 10,000 more children.
A few states acted to enable more families to receive help paying for child care. Maryland has reduced the number of children on the waiting list for child care assistance from over 17,000 in 2012 to just 76 a year later. North Dakota increased its income eligibility limit for child care assistance from 50 percent to 85 percent of state median income (the maximum allowed under federal law) and provided funding to raise reimbursement rates for child care providers and to support grants for child care facilities and other efforts to increase the supply and quality of care.
However, the news is not all good. Two states significantly reduced families’ access to child care assistance, and two additional states are considering cuts to child care and early education programs. Read more »
Last week the North Carolina Senate considered a version of the state budget that would redirect $250,000 from the Women’s Health Services Fund, which provides family planning services to low-income women, to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, which funds Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). On Wednesday, the bill was referred to the committee on appropriations. Since 2009, Texas has similarly allocated $4 million annually to unlicensed and unregulated CPCs. Why is this a problem? Because CPCs are known to pose as comprehensive medical centers, when in fact they provide misleading and inaccurate information to women. The Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship is an explicitly anti-abortion organization that provides funding and training for a majority of the CPCs throughout North Carolina.
Since 2006, the number of CPCs in North Carolina has doubled. 75% of these centers are located in communities with higher than average populations of people of color, and every college campus in the state has a CPC located within 25 miles of it. The Women’s Health Services Fund was established more than ten years ago to provide low-income women who do not qualify for Medicaid with access to family planning services. A significant portion of the Fund helps women obtain long-acting contraceptives that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. Read more »
The cuts in the new law are harmful for everyone, but especially for women. In 2012, the unemployment rate was 9.6 percent for women in North Carolina, substantially higher than the rate for men (8.8 percent). Unemployment rates among black men (17.7 percent), black women (13.8 percent), and Hispanic women (11.4 percent) were also much higher than the North Carolina state average. In addition, the law restricts eligibility by, for example, disqualifying workers from benefits if they have to leave a job for health reasons or because of undue family hardship – a change that will particularly impact women. Read more »
A recent study by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine confirmed what many Governors, state legislators, advocates, and the public already know: covering more hardworking people through the Medicaid program is not only the right thing to do, it’s a good deal that makes a lot of sense.
In summary, a decision to participate in Medicaid expansion, as put forth in the [health care] law, would provide insurance coverage to approximately 500,000 North Carolinians; most of whom would remain uninsured without the expansion. Providing health insurance coverage will help people gain access to the care they need, which can help improve health outcomes. Because of the high federal match rate, the offsets, and the new tax revenues, the state would likely experience a net savings of $65.4 million from the Medicaid expansion over the eight-year time period.
Last week the winners of the first round of the Early Learning Challenge grant competition were announced.
The 9 states selected to receive the grant awards (California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington) have laid out comprehensive, collaborative strategies to achieve stronger early learning systems that increase low-income children’s access to high-quality early care and education.