By Kalena Murphy
Speaking Out to Protect Health Care
We spoke out against two proposed Federal regulations that would harm women and LGBTQI people. We elevated the issues, facilitated the submission of organizational comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and encouraged thousands of people to submit their own comments opposing the regulations. The first proposal would make it easier for health care providers to deny care based on religious, moral, or personal objections. The second would have undermined key provisions of the Title X Federal family planning program. Our RCs helped women and LGBTQI people learn about and speak out against these proposals by posting on RWV’s social media and hosting a #DontDenyUsCare Twitter chat, which reached more than 1.4 million people. RCs created user-friendly overviews of the proposals’ potential negative impact and shared them online and through social media. RCs also used RWV’s template to submit their own comments on the proposals, and engaged their members by sharing our Take Action page, which had talking points and linked to the HHS comment page. Both proposals are still pending.
Protecting People with Pre-existing Conditions!
One of the key components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the protection that ensures people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health insurance, charged more for it, or otherwise discriminated against. To highlight the critical need to maintain and protect this protection, RWV co-sponsored a successful Twitter Chat in August with Community Catalyst, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the American Heart Association, Little Lobbyists, Families USA, Protect Our Care, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Many RCs participated, including California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), EverThrive IL, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Consumer Health First, Northwest Health Law Advocates, and WVFREE. Our chat reached a wide audience and our hashtag, #130MillionStrong, trended in the top 10 nationally. We were delighted that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, also joined the event. Many participants shared their personal stories about why protections for those with pre-existing conditions matter to them and their loved ones. Deneen Robinson, Program Director of The Afiya Center, our Dallas-based RC, shared her first-hand experience. “When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1991,” Deneen says, “the doctors told me I only had three years to live. But I’m still here. I’ve raised two children, now 29 and 30 years old. Thanks to the ACA, I was able to get health care, despite my pre-existing health conditions, and to stay alive and healthy enough to take care of my family. In the course of this work, I’ve seen first-hand how many women, especially Black women, the ACA helps – and how many Texans would lose health care due to pre-existing conditions without the ACA’s protections.”
Meet RWV’s Newest RC
In August 2018, we welcomed the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable (MS-BWR) to RWV’s RC network. BWR is the women and girls empowerment arm of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), which champions equitable public policies for Black women and girls state-wide, across the South, and nationally. BWR is a highly effective economic and social justice organizing network led by Black women, which focuses on expanding inter-generational leadership and addressing economic insecurity, education, and health disparities that perpetuate systemic, multi-generational poverty for too many Black women, families, and communities. The Mississippi affiliate, MS-BWR, is an intergenerational civic engagement network led by Cassandra Welchlin and Debra Robinson. RWV is delighted to welcome you to the team!
Women Unite to Oppose Kavanaugh
In August, advocates in all 50 states participated in more than 200 events across the country on Women’s Equality Day, warning that the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court would give opponents of women’s reproductive rights a majority and could well result in the repeal of Roe v. Wade. The Unite for Justice Day of Action was the largest single-day action opposing a Supreme Court nominee in the country’s history. RWV and our RCs promoted and participated in local events in 11 states (CO, GA, MA, ME, NJ, NM, NY, OR, TX, WA, and WV) to highlight the dire threat Kavanaugh poses to health care access and abortion rights. Although Kavanaugh was confirmed, we want to thank all of our RWV’s for their incredible advocacy and work on this issue.
Dems Control the House, What’s next for RWV?
In December 2018, we gathered in DC for RWV’s annual two-day convening, a time to reflect on the past year and discuss what’s next. The convening outlined the midterm election outcomes’ implications for RWV’s. RCs Northwest Health Law Advocates (NoHLA), CLRJ, COLOR, Trans Queer Pueblo (TQP) shared experiences about their work on immigration and health justice. We heard from the Black Women’s Health Imperative, The Afiya Center, and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, which discussed working on the ground to address the country’s dire maternal health disparities. MS-BWR, New Voices Pittsburgh, and CLRJ shared best practices for incorporating the Reproductive Justice framework to address social determinants of health. We strategized how RWV can support the groundwork to continue improving the health for women and families, especially low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and LGBTQI people. Great things are planned for 2019!
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Kalena Murphy is the NWHN’s Regional Field Manager for RWV.