As the world marks the 101st International Women’s Day, more and more American women are finding their own health under rhetorical and legislative attack in the halls of Congress, on radio airwaves, and in state after state. From attempts to defund organizations providing women with basic health services, to placing intrusive and often humiliating obstacles before women exercising the right to choose, to retricting access to contraception, the past few weeks have seen a range of attacks on women in the states – and a growing movement of progressive state lawmakers standing up and fighting back.
State governments are facing mounting budgetary pressures to cut Medicaid costs. Reducing eligibility or cutting covered services is the obvious, but short-sighted, cost-cutting strategy. Such cuts will leave already ill people more ill, shift treatment costs to other payers (including small businesses, individual insurance policyholders, and medical providers), and forego significant federal funding that frequently exceeds any state budget savings.
Hundreds of state legislators from every state in the nation continue to send a clear message to the Supreme Court: state Attorneys General seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act through the courts are not the only ones who speak for the states.
In the furor surrounding the Obama Administration’s decision this month that contraceptive coverage be provided to women by their employer or insurer, the leadership provided by states in the debate about women’s health has often been overlooked. States have been on the forefront of the fight to ensure that women have access to contraceptives, with 28 states having laws on the books requiring access.
Faced with a rapidly approaching deadline for establishing state-based health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than half of all states — including several with conservative control of their legislatures and governor’s offices — have already taken steps to implement this critical piece of the health law set to come online in 2014, according to a report released this month by the White House. By January 1, 2014, consumers will be able to use exchange as one-stop marketplace to find health care plans that fit their needs and will be able to enroll starting in October 2013. With those dates drawing nearer and nearer, many state legislative sessions are opening with implementation of the exchanges at the top of their priority list.
As conservative state Attorneys General prepare to take their efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act all the way to Supreme Court arguments this spring, an outpouring of support for the health law from state legislators last week made it clear that those seeking to scuttle health reform are not the only ones speaking for the states. Over 500 state legislators representing all 50 states signed on to an Amicus Brief backing the constitutionality of the mimimum coverage provision of the law that was submitted to the Supreme Court last week, a broad show of support for the ACA coming at the beginning of both a pivotal election year and new legislative sessions which will see many lawmakers address the implementation of state exchanges provided for under the law. In addition to the filing of the Amicus Brief, legislators in a number of states held press conferences last week to highlight why they are standing up for the health law. Here are some state-by-state highlights of the coverage of both the brief and of the events held in state capitals across the nation last week.
In an announcement, the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform, a national group of state legislators focused on advancing health reform at the state level that works closely with Progressive States Network, said that over 500 state legislators representing all fifty states have signed on to an Amicus Brief strongly defending the Affordable Care Act in the challenge currently before the Supreme Court. The brief will be filed this Friday and was prepared and filed in conjunction with the Constitutional Accountability Center.
More than 480 state lawmakers plan to file a brief Thursday urging the Supreme Court to uphold President Obama's healthcare law. The group includes at least one lawmaker from every state, including the 26 states whose attorneys general are suing to overturn the healthcare law's individual insurance mandate. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in March and will likely rule on the law this summer.... The brief is a joint effort of the Progressive States Network, the Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform and the Constitutional Accountability Center.