Reproductive rights have had a long couple of weeks in Rhode Island. There’s been a lot of work to do to make sure basic rights secured 40 years ago weren’t on the chopping block - a fate that has befallen so many states, from Virginia to North Dakota. But Rhode Island isn’t Virginia or North Dakota - and supporters of a woman’s right to abortion access came out in huge numbers to make sure that legislators in the Ocean State knew that restricting access to abortion wasn’t welcome here. But in the aftermath of those hearings there’s still a lot of work to do before the legislative session wraps up.
Family Planning Expansion
Currently, Rhode Island provides family planning coverage for Medicaid recipients in a severely limited way. Current state law makes family planning services, available to women who deliver their babies through Medicaid - but only for two years postpartum. That means that time after time, women are dropped from the program and lose access to basic reproductive health services, including annual well woman exams, Pap tests, breast exams, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and yes - contraception, which would help women space their families and would work to prevent unintended pregnancies.
Here’s the thing: Family Planning Expansion isn’t just about making sure birth control and basic health care are accessible for all Rhode Island women, it’s also about fiscal responsibility for the state. Here’s how the math shakes out:
What You Can Do
This is a no-brainer. Rhode Island is an outlier in New England. We have the second highest unintended pregnancy rate in the region. Expanding family planning would cover reproductive aged Rhode Islands up to 250% of the Federal Poverty Level - $47,752 annual income for a family of three - for GYN annual exams and cancer screenings, birth control and STI testing and treatments.
In short, we’re talking about a program that could save Rhode Island thousands of dollars and allow women the opportunity to plan and space their families. Take action today and tell Governor Chafee to expand family planning services under Medicaid - because when it comes to access to birth control and basic health care, we know that Rhode Island can do better.
by Patrick Comerford, Social Media and Community Relations Coordinator, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
In the form of five different pieces of anti-choice legislation, a group of legislators in the Ocean State have decided that they know what’s best for a woman - and are determined to stand between her and her doctor. It’s enough to make you wonder if this is the same New England state that voted to legalize same-sex marriage last week!
From Arkansas to North Dakota, radical abortion opponents have pushed their agenda to an all time low - and now they’re working toward adding Rhode Island to that list. The five bills that will be heard on May 8th at the State House would work to actively restrict access to abortion and include such include egregious legislation that would:
These bills would not only impact women’s access to services but would hamper the work and professional judgment of physicians and would deter providers from offering full reproductive health services.
We are fighting against this legislation and we’re saying: Not in Our State! - and this is where you come in. Your power and your voice is critical when it comes to defeating dangerous pieces of legislation that would once again try to politicize women’s health. We need you to stand up and say enough is enough! Contacting your legislators and filling the hearing room is crucial to keeping abortion safe and legal in the state of Rhode Island.
Not sure how to talk to your elected officials about issues like women’s health, including abortion and birth control? No worries - you’re not alone. These can be tough topics to talk about and it’s no wonder we don’t always feel 100% sure about how to get a conversation like that going. That’s why, leading up to the hearings, Planned Parenthood Young Professionals are sponsoring, Having “The Talk” with Your Elected Officials – You Want to Put Your Bill Where?! on Tuesday, May 7th. It’s going to take a lot of work to defeat this dangerous legislation - but the first step is in learning how to feel comfortable making your voice heard.
If legislators in Rhode Island are serious about wanting to reduce unintended pregnancy, the answer is not to make it harder to obtain an abortion. The answer is to expand access to family planning through Medicaid - which help prevent the program from dropping women and leaving them vulnerable to unintended pregnancy through lack of access to family planing services. It’s time to tell our legislators that we want real solutions, not political tactics designed to limit a woman’s access to basic reproductive health care.
We can’t do this without your help. To take action and stop these bills you can: contact your legislators, come out on Tuesday night for "The Talk" and then make sure that on Wednesday, May 8th you’re at the Rhode Island State House to pack the hearing room with support for access to basic health care for women. Together we can stand up and say Not in Our State! Help us tell lawmakers that Rhode Island cares about reproductive health and justice - and we won’t stand for abortion restrictions in the Ocean State!
Great news - the CT Legislature has said NO to leaving 37,500 families without health coverage! Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators and a special thanks to the members of the Appropriations Committee for helping protect CT families from cuts to crucial Medicaid coverage!
Here’smore from the CT Mirror about the legislative action on the budget:
HUSKY cuts reversed
Despite the fiscal challenges facing the state, the Appropriations Committee balked at another controversial health care cut sought by the governor.
Its plan would maintain Medicaid coverage for approximately 37,500 poor parents served by the state’s HUSKY program.
When federal health reform rolls out next year, those parents will be eligible for federal subsidies to buy coverage through the state’s new health insurance exchange marketplace. Cutting them from HUSKY — which is a Medicaid program — would save the state $5.6 million this fiscal year and $58.8 million in the next, but would likely leave the parents to pay premiums and copayments for their coverage. Medicaid is currently free.
Critics of the cut warned that many parents would likely forego coverage and that it could leave their children less likely to have insurance or get medical care.
Legislators factored other Medicaid savings into their budget that could potentially offset the continued coverage for parents, although they are not guaranteed to be achieved. One is $180 million in savings over two years from catching Medicaid fraud. Malloy’s budget counted on $120 million in savings related to stopping fraud.
Another projected savings is $55 million over two years from preventing hospitalizations. The legislature’s proposal would require the organization that administers the Medicaid program to work with health care providers to increase preventive care as a way to reduce hospitalizations, which cost more.
Under the committee’s proposal, some Medicaid patients would be charged copayments for unnecessary emergency room use. The budget projects that doing so would save $675,000 per year. Federal law allows states to implement copayments of up to $7.90, although they can’t be charged for the care of some patients, including children. Currently, there are no copayments in the Medicaid program.