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Archive for the ‘Contraception’ Category

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health recognizes the critical role community health centers (CHCs) play in delivering health care to Latin@ communities across the country.

And so does the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): the health care reform law will provide $11 billion between 2011 and 2015 to support and expand operations of community health centers.

What exactly are Community Health Centers and how do they help our communities stay healthy?

Community health centers (CHCs) provide affordable, culturally-competent comprehensive primary and preventive health care services to low-income individuals living in medically underserved areas. In practice, this means that a community health center may be the only health care provider accessible to those in our community who most need care.

Community health centers receive specific federal funding to provide free or low-cost services, including reproductive health services like cancer screenings and contraception. Studies show that CHCs play a pivotal role in providing essential reproductive health care for low-income women, including prenatal care, mammograms and Pap tests. Community health centers provide care regardless of one’s ability to pay, immigration status, or primary language. They are often governed by a community board, whose membership is at least half composed of health center patients themselves and understand the community’s needs.

In 2010, approximately 1,100 federally-funded community health centers provided care to 19.5 million Americans. Latinos represent over one-third of all CHC patients and in 2009, 865,000 patients at these centers were migrant and seasonal farmworkers, many of them Latinas. In the new health reform law, $9.5 billion will go to create new CHCs in medically underserved areas as well as expand the types of health services provided at these centers. $1.5 billion will go to enhance infrastructure at existing community health centers.

Why is this funding so important for our community?

With millions of Americans living without health care insurance, there is a dire need for more community health centers to provide essential primary and preventive health care services. Among all racial and ethnic groups, Latinos have the highest health care uninsurance rates. We also know that Latinas disproportionately suffer from conditions and diseases such as cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS among others, so increasing the reach of CHCs will improve access to preventive health services and may begin to reduce health disparities. And finally, as undocumented immigrants and permanent residents who have had that status for five years or less will continue to be ineligible for Medicaid, community health centers will continue to play a unique role on providing quality care regardless of immigration status.

For more information about Community Health Centers,please check out NLIRH’s fact sheet, Medicaid and Community Health Centers Threatened with Funding Cuts: What is really at stake for Latinas and Immigrant Communities?


Photo Credit: Health Center Data: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Uniform Data System, 2009. National Data: U.S. Census Bureau, 2008 Current Population Reports. http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/08/increasing-access.html

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If you’re interested in the voice and perspective that were silenced, read Sandra’s moving testimony or watch her deliver it at a press conference last week [the other testimony is worth a watch too, but Sandra’s starts at 23:43].

On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee continued the assault on women’s rights with yet another hearing on the no co-pay contraception rule that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in August of last year. Since this rule is well-supported by popular opinion, we can set to one side that the religious leaders are the ringleaders in the contraception circus on the Hill and focus on what made Thursday’s hearing even more outrageous: minority witness Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown Law Center, was not permitted to testify. (more…)

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As soon as this afternoon or tomorrow, the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to the Transportation bill proposed by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). This amendment is a  reaction to the recent decision of the Obama administration to require most employers – excluding churches and houses of worship, but not other religiously-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities – to provide health care coverage that includes preventive care, including birth control without co-pays. Even though the administration issued an accommodation to the rule, legislators intent on dismantling birth control coverage are not satisfied, and Senator Blunt is one of them. The amendment he proposed, however, goes much further – it would not only overturn the birth control benefit, but allows employers and insurance companies to deny coverage for ANY essential health service that they object to on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction.

This extreme proposal is hugely expansive, and could mean anything from an employer choosing not to cover birth control to choosing not to cover prenatal care because of an employee’s sexual orientation or marital status. Personal decisions about health care belong in the hands of patients and their doctors – not employers. This amendment  would result in increased health disparities for low-income women and women of color, including Latinas. Any woman, regardless of where she works, deserves access to the health care she needs. Tell your Senator to reject this extreme measure now!

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Since day one, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health has been arguing that contraception is important for the health and well-being of Latinas and our communities.

Today, President Obama announced an accommodation to the rule requiring most employers, excluding houses of worship, to provide health insurance that covers contraception. NLIRH applauds the new rule as it will provide women with “seamless access to birth control without expensive co-pays while providing accommodation to religiously affiliated employers.”

However, we know this issue won’t go away. As you may recall, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently introduced a bill that would undermine the provisions in the Affordable Care Act related to women’s health and reproductive health services by dramatically broadening refusal protections.

Thus, as the coversation continues, NLIRH will continue to deliver the facts.

Check out our fact sheets in English and in Spanish.

Here is a sneak preview of the facts:
- A rollback on insurance coverage for contraception will hurt Latino families and will not end the political debate.
- The overwhelming majority of Latinas, including Catholic Latinas, use contraception.
- Most Latinas, including Catholic Latinas, support the coverage of contraception.
- Contraceptive coverage without co-pays is good for the health of women, good for the well-being of their families and good for our communities.
- Latino community leaders support birth control coverage.

You can also join us on Facebook, by sharing a Valentine to Secretary Sebelius, and on Twitter, where you can tell us what you will do #with600dollars that you will be saving each year thanks to no co-pays for birth control! You can also follow our hashtags #iheartbc and #bcftw.

Please join us by thanking the President and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius by tweeting @BarackObama and @Sebelius or posting your thanks on their Facebook pages! This rule could save you and your family $600.00/year, so it’s a big deal!

The fact sheets are Just the Facts: Latinas and Birth Control Coverage in English and Sólo los hechos: Las latinas y la cobertura de los anticonceptivos en español.

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Thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a recent decision from the Department of Health and Human Services, birth control will soon be covered without co-pays for all women.

This decision will save women an average of $600 a year—money a woman will be able to use for groceries, school tuition, childcare, or anything else she and her family need.

All of us here at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health recognize HHS’s decision as one of the most important advancements for women’s health in decade.

How can you show your love for birth control and HHS’s no-copay decision?

Participate in our  “I Heart BC!” Campaign.

How to participate:

  • SAY THANKS! Send an email to President Obama his administration  for this historic support for women’s health!
  • SPREAD THE LOVE! Share one (or more!) of our “I Heart BC!” photos on your Facebook Page. Tell your friends on Facebook about the campaign and encourage them to share a photo as well.
  • TWEET IT OUT! On Twitter, use hashtags #with600dollars and #iheartbc to say what you will do with an extra $600.00 a year thanks to the new rule.
     Example: Thanks @Sebelius! #with600dollars, I will be able to pay for another credit
    at my community college. #iheartbc

Spread the word that birth control IS an essential part of women’s preventive health care! Tell us and your friends how this historic decision will positively impact your life!

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A decision by the Obama Administration may come down very soon that could expand the religious exemption to our recently hard-won victory of contraception without co-pays for new insurance plans.  That would mean that Latinas who work for religiously-affiliated schools, universities and hospitals could be denied coverage for birth control.

There are many reasons the Administration should not expand the religious exemption for birth control coverage, which currently is narrow and applies to health insurance plans for places of worship (which women’s health groups also oppose.)  One major reason is the simple fact that 98% of sexually-experienced women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, including Catholic women.  The myth that all Latinas are Catholic and therefore all oppose birth control is false.  Latinas, including Catholic Latinas, resoundingly support the women’s preventive coverage benefit.  In fact, 89% of Latina voters aged 18-34 support the requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control at no cost.

We know that family planning is central to the wellness of women and their families.  Eliminating expensive co-pays could also expand access to contraception for Latinas, who cite the high cost of birth control as a barrier to consistent use. Far more important than the decision are the real impacts this could have on women who already struggle to make ends meet.  For example, in these tough economic times, more women are seeking to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancies.  Still, unintended pregnancies are rising among poor women who do not have the resources to purchase contraception.  In 2006, a poor woman in the U.S. was four times as likely to have an unintended pregnancy as an affluent woman, and this disparity is likely to have increased with the recent “Great Recession.”

Taking away this benefit from millions of Latinas and their families has no basis in the law, is bad health policy, and is contrary to overwhelming public opinion.

Instead of caving to aggressive lobbying, the Administration should seize this opportunity to address the issue at hand; women’s reproductive rights.  With groundswell of support from women’s health organizations and overwhelmingly from the public, the Administration should hop aboard the reproductive health bandwagon to support a standard of care that will respect the dignity of all women.

Latinas and all women deserve access to birth control without co-pays because it prevents unintended pregnancies and keep our families healthy.  We know that contraception is a critical component of both public health initiatives and women’s healthcare, and for millions of Latinas, birth control, by definition, is prevention.

Take action and urge the Obama Administration not to expand the religious exemption.

This post is part of the HERvotes blog carnival. 

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It should be unthinkable for employers and health institutions to be allowed to make decisions about women’s health needs for them. And it should be unquestionable that access to family planning services, including contraception and sterilization, are vital to comprehensive health care for women.

Last Wednesday, November 2, 2011, Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA) called a hearing entitled “Do New Health Law Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care” in the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Health, part of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Despite the fact that studies show that 98-99% of sexually active women have used a modern form of contraception, some members of the Subcommittee value the preferences of employers over the right of women to be healthy and to choose what they need to be healthy.

(more…)

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