Category Archives: Affordable Care Act

Fighting for Medicaid is a Feminist Issue

Did you know that 1 in 5 American women in their reproductive years receive health insurance through the Medicaid program? In fact, Medicaid is a lifeline for nearly half of women in that age group who are below the federal poverty line, and nearly a third of Black women in that group (compared with 16% of white peers). Did you also know that LGBTQ+ people disproportionally experience poverty compared to heterosexual and cisgender people, making them more reliant on Medicaid for health care? Did you know that the Medicaid program covers care expenses for 51% of all births in the United States?

In this political moment, one of the country’s largest health care programs—designed to improve access and quality of life for low income people and those with disabilities—is under attack on both federal and state levels. Last month, the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed a vote in the House and stands to go up for a vote in the Senate. One of the many dangerous components of the AHCA is its targeting of the Medicaid program, which is an essential health care safety net for low income people, as well as a key facet of our nation’s family planning effort. Medicaid allows coverage for family planning services without copays, or penalties and red tape for choosing one type of contraceptive over another. The AHCA’s proposals to shift to a block grant or per capita cap structure for Medicaid would shift more costs to states, which would end up putting more costs on poor patients as well as their providers.

Unfortunately, Maine is also experiencing more localized attacks on our state Medicaid program, known as MaineCare. Maine is one of 19 states that have yet to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), due to Governor LePage’s multiple vetoes of this effort. Now, through a waiver application process, the Maine Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) is attempting to enact rule changes that would place even more barriers to health care before poor and disabled Mainers, and result in potentially thousands more losing MaineCare coverage. Luckily, Maine’s “state plan amendment” has allowed for Maine Family Planning clinics to extend free reproductive health care services to low-income Mainers who are otherwise not eligible for MaineCare. However, the DHHS proposal to eliminate retroactive coverage would have negative effects on our ability to continue offering this service to people who fall through the cracks of our current health care system.

Opponents of these changes spoke passionately at a public hearing in Portland yesterday. One advocate with Homeless Voices for Justice—Dee Clarke—asked blatantly, “Why are you trying to hurt us?” Several mothers, including Clarke, spoke about raising their children on MaineCare, which allowed them to care for their families in the best way possible while facing the daily challenges of living in poverty. A nurse midwife spoke against the proposed $5,000 asset test as one change that would punish many women seeking prenatal care whose families operate small businesses. As she so poignantly put it, “You can’t sell off your small business or farm to afford prenatal care.”

Both the data and human stories make it clear:  Defending and expanding Medicaid is a feminist issue with major implications for women and LGBTQ+ health. The political attacks on Medicaid are fueled by classist stereotyping and stigmatizing of poor people, and the harm disproportionately falls on poor women. Cutting Medicaid means rolling back access to reproductive health care as well. It means more unplanned pregnancies, less healthy pregnancies, and more sick mothers and babies. Progressive Maine organizations are fighting to expand MaineCare this year, and Maine Family Planning is joining them. We continue to fight every day for the well-being of Maine women, teens, and LGBTQ+ people.

If you’d like to learn more about how to get involved in this effort, contact Community Organizer Cait Vaughan at 207-480-3518 or at cvaughan@mainefamilyplanning.org.

Destigmatizing abortions:  the word, the act, and our reaction.

When and how did the word “abortion” become as abhorrent as a cuss word?  Even the whispered word can silence a room.  I know.  I’ve done it.  Who do we blame?  The “fake news” the “alternative facts” the “something-else-in-media-today”?!  With all the finger pointing flying around our legislative bodies maybe we need to look inward?  Maybe we need to let the trickle down trickle right to our doorsteps much like the spring rain.

Will making the word more mainstream help us?  Using it more in daily vernacular?  How about a challenge?   Humanize the word.  Think of the women, families behind the word.  Not all reasons for abortions are the same, think more like snowflakes.  All different, but all make snow.  All reasons for abortions are different – financial, life goals, timing, needs, wants, desires – but all make up the collective of abortions.

I am here to help.  At Maine Family Planning we ask women to share their stories.  Here is a handful:

“I love and adore the children I have and it’s my responsibility to make (the) right choices for them, without this service I could not accomplish this.”

“At 40 years old, faced with an unwanted pregnancy I made the choice to abort.  My choice – how lucky I am to have that choice and be taken care of by the most compassionate staff.”

“I am a single mother with two children who is struggling to just get by.  We live at a shelter and have no income.  I have been taking birth control and hadn’t had any problems.  I got pregnant with this child while using my pills.  Due to my situation, I decided that I would not be fair or right to bring this child into this family and to also take what little we have away from my two girls.  I truly feel that this abortion was the right choice for me at this time.”

“I came for my abortion and the protesters didn’t have any impact on me.  I had my procedure done due to medical reasons.  It was my choice and I do not feel guilty at all.”

“Some people say it’s not a choice; it’s a right but when you’re in a spot you need to do what you have to.  Trust us, it’s not easy but this world has its ups and downs.  You don’t know my reason.  I’m sure everyone has one and only God can judge you.”

“I am so thankful for having the right to choose.  Protesters and others don’t take into account the negative cycle of events that often occur when so many children are brought into this world by parents who are not mentally, financially, or emotionally prepared.”

“The thought of someone else making a decision about my body/my pregnancy is a very unsettling feeling.  It’s my body, my life, my choice.  America is the home of the free.  It’s my right to decide what happens with my body.”

Seven.  Seven stories to help you humanize an essential piece of women’s reproductive rights.

Maine Family Planning is committed to preserving all aspects of women’s reproductive rights and we are here for you.

Only a few days left to get covered!

Open Enrollment in Marketplace Health Insurance plans ends this coming Sunday, January 31st—so if you still don’t have health insurance for 2016, take some time over the next few days to make sure you’re covered, won’t have to pay a penalty, and most importantly, rest easy knowing you’ll have the financial support you need to take good care of your health.

As our partners at Consumers for Affordable Healthcare write:

“This year, the penalty for not having coverage is going up. An adult who chooses to go without coverage in 2016 will owe a penalty of at least $695 when they file their taxes next year. And remember, you have to have coverage for all of 2016 to avoid the penalty when you file next spring. You cannot sign up for a plan at tax time to avoid a penalty for last year.

Health coverage may be more affordable than you think. Last year, 9 out of 10 Mainers who applied qualified for lower costs. A family of four can make up to $95,000 a year and still get financial assistance to lower the cost of a plan.”

To get assistance enrolling in health coverage today (January 29th), you can contact Maine Family Planning or Consumers for Affordable Healthcare:

  • Maine Family Planning: 207-248-3928
  • Consumers for Affordable Healthcare: 1-800-965-7476

Don’t need our help signing up? You can enroll online anytime by the end of the day on January 31st at www.healthcare.gov, or by calling the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596.

There will be opportunities to sign up after January 31st– but they’re limited.  Continue reading

Need health insurance? We’re here to help.

The Health Insurance Marketplace opens on November 1st, and Maine Family Planning is here to help you navigate your options. Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or renewing your current plan, we can help guide you through the process. Our experienced Certified Application Counselor (CAC) is available by appointment in our Augusta, Bangor, Belfast, and Lewiston Family Planning sites during the entire open enrollment period (November 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016).

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Want to know a bit more about Marketplace plans before making an appointment? To help break things down, we’ve put together a list of things we think everyone needs to know—so read up, share with friends and family (and then give us a call)!

You’ll get real coverage. All health insurance plans are now required to cover essential health services, including preventive screenings, prescriptions, emergency room care, and contraception. You can’t be denied coverage or dropped from a plan because of pre-existing health conditions.

Chances are, you’ll get financial help.  Continue reading

Back by popular demand: we can get you covered!

Open enrollment for Marketplace Insurance Plans starts November 1st, 2015, and remains open until February 1st, 2016. For those who don’t have health insurance, the time to sign up for coverage is quickly approaching, and Maine Family Planning is here to help.

get covered

Last year, we helped over 900 Mainers find and enroll in an affordable plan; we can help you find coverage this year.

Reproductive health care is essential for well-being and success. The ability to decide whether and when to have children allows people to pursue education, fulfilling careers, and to raise safe and healthy families if or when they’re ready. As important as reproductive health care is, it’s not the only kind of care people need. That’s why Maine Family Planning will be helping patients and their families enroll in affordable health insurance plans– we want Mainers to be covered for ALL of their healthcare needs, including Primary Care, prescriptions, and any emergencies that may come up. Maine Family Planning has always been a place where anyone can get affordable health care, regardless of insurance status. While we do accept private and public health insurance, many people who come to us are uninsured. In fact, we’re often one of the only health centers that people without health insurance can afford to visit.

What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?  Continue reading

What Are You Waiting For? Get Covered!

woman with laptop and papersOpen enrollment in affordable health plans began on November 15th, and as of January 23rd, almost 63,000 Mainers have enrolled in a health insurance plan. This open enrollment period– a window where almost anyone without health insurance can sign up– ends on February 15th. Why wait any longer? There are only two weeks left, and Maine Family Planning is here to help even if you’ve waited until the last minute.

Need convincing? Here are a few reasons why you (or someone you love) should enroll before February 15th.  Continue reading

May We Suggest a New Year’s Revolution?

It’s January, which means it’s New Year’s Resolution season. Maybe you resolved to take good care of your health, to give back to your community, or to save more money.  Because taking care of ourselves can be a political act (as Audre Lorde reminded us), might we suggest you make a New Year’s Revolution, instead?

Whether or not your resolution feels revolutionary, there’s something nice about a new year and a fresh start– and it’s especially satisfying to know you’ve done something kind for yourself (we can help!). Continue reading

Getting Covered: Six Things We Want You To Know.

Outreach & Enrollment for blogThe Health Insurance Marketplace is now open, and Maine Family Planning is here to help you navigate your options. With two Certified Application Counselors (CACs) traveling to our Augusta, Bangor, Belfast, and Lewiston Family Planning sites, finding and enrolling in a plan is easier than ever. Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or simply renewing your current plan, we can help guide you through the process.

While we can make it easier for you to find an affordable plan, we know that there’s still a lot of confusing information out there about health insurance. To help break things down, we’ve put together a list of the top six things we think everyone needs to know—so read up, share with friends and family (and then give us a call)!

Continue reading

TODAY IS NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY!

Are you registered to vote in November’s election? Here’s why it’s important and here’s what you need to know about registering and voting.

register-to-vote

Six weeks from today, on November 4th, Maine voters will elect a Governor, a U.S. Senator, two members of Congress, 35 State Senators, and 151 State Representatives. Every voter will have the opportunity to cast their vote for Governor, U.S. Senator, one member of Congress, one State Senator and one State Representative. Think this election’s not important because you’re not voting for President? Here are some reasons your vote matters this year: Continue reading

Supreme Court Rules on Birth Control Coverage Case

Supreme Court Rules on Birth ControlOn Monday, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled that family-owned, for-profit corporations may hold religious convictions, and that those corporations may opt out of the federal regulations requiring employer-sponsored health insurance to cover contraceptives, based on the corporation’s religious convictions.

What does this ruling really mean, in practical terms?

Here are some of the most significant repercussions of this decision:

Continue reading