It’s hard to see our faces in the photo above, but I hope you can imagine our voices! Just a few days ago, I was proud to lead a group of 25 Raising Women’s Voices (RWV) activists to a meeting at the White House. In recognition of the important work done by the RWV coordinators, the White House arranged a special briefing for us.
During the briefing we heard from White House and HHS officials. They told us that the administration is working hard to be ready for the third annual Open Enrollment period, which starts on November 1. They’re also very proud that so many more people have coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act. We got the message that the administration wants people to know that the ACA is working.
We’re happy to help deliver a message about the successes of policies that meet the needs of average people. Through the Raising Women’s Voices initiative, we’ll be letting people know that the ACA works, it ensures that women’s health needs are met, and that help is available with monthly premiums. We plan to go all out this fall to make personal connections with women to encourage them to get covered and stay covered.
But you know us – we didn’t go to the White House just to listen. We spoke up, too, letting White House and HHS officials know what women need from them. RWV regional coordinators spoke up about the problems some women have with co-pays and deductibles which can put health care out of reach, even when the monthly premium is affordable. Coordinators also told officials that women who have unexpected changes in their family outside of open enrollment periods, such as pregnancy, or divorce, need open avenues to coverage.
Coordinators also gave the administration officials an “activist thank you” for the Contraceptive Coverage FAQ issued this spring. Several coordinators had done research in their states to document how few insurers covered all methods of contraception, which has been required of all new plans since 2013. The coordinators explained that they’ve seen a difference in insurers’ coverage since the FAQ came out, and used that success story to ask the administration to do even more! Coordinators explained to the officials how it can be difficult for new mothers to get insurance coverage for lactation consultants, for example, something the administration could fix with another FAQ.
When we walked out of the White House that afternoon, we were walking on concrete sidewalks, but we could feel our connection to our grassroots, people like you who’ve rallied, lobbied and educated your friends. Whether we’re at a rally, an outreach fair, the halls of Congress, or at the White House, we’re committed to raising our voices for the right of all women and their families to high quality, affordable health care. Thank you for your help with this important work.