Congratulations and Keep It Up! National Day of Action Saturday, July 29

highfive-01-800pxLast night, Senate Republicans failed in their last ditch effort to repeal the ACA and dismantle Medicaid. A huge thank you to our members, partners, and friends for all of your hard work and activism over the last nine months.

Your resistance is the reason they keep failing.

Unfortunately, the fight is not over. The President is still threatening to end Cost Sharing Reduction payments that reduce out of pocket costs for moderate income Americans and there is a House budget proposal that would cut trillions of dollars from Medicaid and other health care and entitlement programs over the next 10 years.

Seven of NY’s Representatives voted to pass an anti-health care bill in the House: Chris Collins, John Faso, Peter King, Tom Reed, Claudia Tenney, and Lee Zeldin. They may soon have another chance to decide our fate through the budget process – this Saturday, show them in person that those first votes were a mistake!

Here’s what you ca do to stay engaged:

  1. Join people across the country at demonstrations. We already know about events in places like BeaconKingstonDelhiNew HartfordNew York City, and Glens Falls. We’ll add events to our eventspage as soon as we learn about them so keep checking!
  2. You could also plan your own event! The Our Lives on the Linesite has some tools to help you do this, but all you really need to do is show up at your Representatives’ offices with signs or letters telling them not to support any bill that takes health care away from people.

We’ve come so far – and we won’t stop fighting now!

Guest blog by Ann Danforth, Progressive States Advocacy and Policy Manager at Raising Women’s Voices-NY. It’s no secret that since day one, the current administration and the Republican-led Congress have been dead set on chipping away at the gains we’ve made to women’s health under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republicans have pushed forward a number of ACA repeal bills, but all of them have one thing in common: they would be devastating for women at every age across our life span. These proposals have included provisions that would gut Medicaid, defund Planned Parenthood, and impose restrictions on abortion coverage in private insurance. And in early May, the President attacked women’s health through administrative channels, signing an Executive Order that opens the door for broad religious or conscience-based exemptions to the ACA’s contraceptive coverage mandate. (For more on the ACA’s contraceptive coverage mandate, see RWV’s blog post on the topic here.)

Since the Executive Order, rumors have circulated about an interim final rule – said to be currently undergoing review – which would allow employers of any size, location, or business type to refuse to provide birth control to their employees based on their religious or moral objections (read the leaked draft here). This would undermine the ACA’s contraceptive coverage benefit, undoing one of the most popular features of the ACA, and one that has provided coverage without co-pays to more than 55 million women across the United States. Of course, not all employers would choose to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees, and women’s health groups are standing ready to call on employers to maintain this coverage.

Luckily, regardless of what happens down in D.C., New York has moved to protect contraceptive coverage without co-pays in our state. Recognizing the value of the ACA’s contraceptive coverage benefit, the threat posed by a hostile federal administration, and the inconsistent implementation of the contraceptive mandate by New York insurers (identified by RWV-NY in our 6/26/14 and 3/1/16 letters to NY State of Health and NYS Department of Financial Services), the Cuomo Administration issued draft regulations to expand contraceptive coverage protections in New York. These regulations, which we wrote about in a previous HCFANY blog post, were finalized last month. They require coverage without co-pays for one type of contraception in each of the 18 FDA-approved categories (the federal ACA standard), and allow for the dispensing of 12 months of contraception after an initial three-month allotment (June 28, 2017 Register: Page 13, Notice of Adoption).

In addition, and as part of their efforts to secure coverage for a full range of reproductive health services in New York State, the Cuomo Administration finalized another regulation that requires private insurance coverage for medically necessary abortions without cost sharing (June 21, 2017 Register: Page 18, Notice of Adoption). While the draft regulation included an overly broad religious exemption – which would have followed the disturbing national trend of allowing employers to use their personal religion to discriminate against employees – the finalized regulation includes a much narrower religious exemption, reflecting that of the NY Women’s Health and Wellness Act. The change came in response to hundreds of comments that individuals and organizations like RWV-NY and HCFANY submitted in support of the proposed regulations, and urging the Administration to narrow the scope of the overly broad religious exemption.

It is worth noting the serious implications of the potential conflict between New York’s new abortion regulation and the ACA repeal proposals’ restrictions on abortion coverage. In both the House-passed and Senate versions of ACA repeal, individuals would be banned from using federal subsidies to buy health plans that cover abortion. Since New York’s new regulation requires all New York health plans to cover abortion, this provision, which we are likely to see in future attempts to repeal the ACA, would mean that no one – not just women – could use federal subsidies to buy a health plan in New York.

Given the potential implications of ACA repeal for women’s health, it is critical that New York remain a leader in ensuring access to reproductive health care. HCFANY and RWV-NY will continue to work to protect New Yorkers from harmful federal policies that threaten the well-being of women, LGBTQ people, and our families.

ProtestThe coverage gains and consumer protections achieved under the ACA and the Medicaid program that covers the most vulnerable New Yorkers are all at risk. The Senate could be voting on their Better Health Care Reconciliation Act that would take coverage away from more than 22 million people and end the Medicaid program as we know it as early as next week.

Join HCFANY MONDAY, July 17 at 1:15 PM for the “Take a Stand for Health Care” rally with Governor Andrew Cuomo at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City to defend the ACA and Medicaid. Please register here.

Stern Auditorium

Icahn School of Medicine

Mt. Sinai Hospital

1468 Madison Avenue

New York, NY 10029

IMG_0044A few weeks ago, more than 70 members of HCFANY, Health Care for America Now-New York (HCAN), and Medicaid Matters New York (MMNY) from across the state gathered in Albany for the first joint New York State Health Advocates Spring Meeting. More than 50 consumers and advocates attended the press conference in front of the State Capitol about the then secret Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act bill. Several State Legislators also attended including: Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Assembly Member Patricia Fahy. We were honored to have Margarida Jorge, Co-Executive Director of HCAN and the HCAN Education Fund, as a speaker at the press conference and as our keynote speaker. You can view WNYT coverage of the press conference here.

We heard updates from HCFANY, HCAN-New York, MMNY, Coverage 4 All (immigrant health), disability rights groups, and women’s health and LGBTQIA groups to learn more about what they are doing to fight for New York’s health care and how consumers can get involved. You can view slides from the presentation here. The meeting concluded with break out groups to plan ACA and Medicaid defense actions in different regions throughout New York State.