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We're still hard at work on health care reform

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Now that health care reform has passed, the work in implementing the statute is in full force. Agencies that are charged with bringing the legislation to life have been tackling issues that affect the Latina community and we have been there at every step to help guide the administration as it goes forward.

Below you will find a comprehensive update of how NLIRH is participating in the ongoing health care reform process.

 

 

 

 

  • We submitted comments on a newly empanelled group of experts at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) who will make recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about women’s preventive care. The IOM committee will be instrumental in determining whether and how contraception is treated as preventive care. These comments addressed the specific qualifications of the panel, giving support to those panelists that have extensive backgrounds in women’s health issues, and primarily pointing out those experts that have critical backgrounds in working with diverse or underrepresented populations.
  • Shortly after the IOM panel was confirmed, it held its first meeting on women’s preventive care and, of course, we were there. We worked with the Women of Color United for Health Reform to give testimony that elevated the shared experiences of women of color in our struggle for health care services that benefit women, families, and communities of color. Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, the President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, spoke eloquently on behalf of the coalition and gave very compelling remarks about our belief that health care is a human right and that health disparities, which disproportionately impact our communities, must be eliminated. Eleanor gave strong recommendations to the committee to include birth control in the definition of preventive care. In addition, the testimony gave specific statistics demonstrating health disparities in our communities and clear barriers to service for women of color. She emphasized certain preventable diseases that must receive better care through the regulations including cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis B. Lastly, the coalition’s testimony recommended that the committee specifically consider transgender women in its recommendations who also need preventive care for female reproductive organs, regardless of their gender identifiers.
  • Next in partnership with the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), we offered comments on Medicaid to HHS. Those comments were in response to the agency’s proposal to more strictly regulate state programs that divert from traditional Medicaid rules. Our primary goal in these comments was to promote and strengthen the agency’s plans to better involve impacted communities before a state is approved for a new program. In these comments, we recommended that the agency require states to provide information about the different groups that are affected by the state’s Medicaid program. This would help HHS decide whether key groups of beneficiaries were actually given adequate notice of the state’s plan to divert from established Medicaid rules. We recommended that the agency require state’s to show information about affected groups’ income levels, education, ages, disability statuses, primary languages, and other relevant factors that fundamentally impact the success of notice and comment processes. NLIRH also recommended that states be required to notify effected communities in relevant languages. Lastly, we recommended that states be required to demonstrate how the proposed changes will benefit or harm vulnerable or medically underserved communities. 
  • Again working with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), we submitted comments this week on the administration’s process to define “essential health benefits.” These comments were critical because the definition of essential health benefits will inform the basic requirements of any insurance program under health law reform. In these comments we again advocated for women’s reproductive health care, language access, and children’s health. We also clearly explained how other factors such as cost, politics, and religion confuse this analysis and aggravate health disparities.
  • In addition, we commented on the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, which is the footprint that the federal government plans to use to improve the health of Americans and reduce the incidence of preventable illness and disability in the United States. 

As health care reform continues to be implemented at breakneck pace, the NLIRH will be participating at every step of the way. Stay tuned for news on the ways we are advocating in the upcoming months.