We Need One More “No” Vote to Save the ACA. ALL HANDS ON DECK!

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Thursday, Sept. 21

ISSUE: It’s now or never. Senate Republicans have just over a week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the devastating Graham-Cassidy proposal is gaining steam, even though it will do exactly what previous repeal bills would have done: strip health care from millions; end protections for pre-existing conditions; allow insurers to refuse coverage for essential health benefits like prescription drugs, hospitalization, lab work, contraceptives, and reproductive health; and decimate Medicaid, on which over 40% of people living with HIV rely to stay healthy. Continue reading “We Need One More “No” Vote to Save the ACA. ALL HANDS ON DECK!”

Disparities in Health Outcomes, Barriers to Care Are About More Than Just Access

 

Updated Sept. 10

September 8, United States Conference on AIDS, 2017. Washington, D.C.: Black men wait 32% longer to cross the street than white men, according to a study from Portland, Oregon. Males in their 20s, identically dressed, had very distinct experiences: While the white men waited only 7.4 seconds to cross, Black men waited an average of 9.79 seconds for a driver to yield after signaling their intention to cross.

Such an anecdote, at first glance, seems to have little to do with health care. Yet—as Dr. David Williams of Harvard University, the keynote speaker at the opening plenary of the 2017 U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA), illustrated with diverse statistics—the overlap between structural racism that people of color, particularly Black people, face every day and significantly lower health outcomes is impossible to ignore. Even Black people with a college degree have a shorter life expectancy than white people without a high school diploma. When it comes to health disparities, there are systemic problems that run even deeper than the already very real and widely acknowledged problem of lack of access to poor and working class people. Continue reading “Disparities in Health Outcomes, Barriers to Care Are About More Than Just Access”

Our Resistance Recess Toolkit Has Lots of Ideas and Resources to Take Action This August Recess!

August 8: We did it! Through people power, we killed the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act! At least for now, and just by one vote. We have lots of work ahead of us.

All members of Congress are home for the August recess. They’ll be in district hosting town halls, public events, and meeting with their constituents. When they come back in September, they’ll be voting on a number of pieces of legislation, as well as the federal budget. The Republican fight to dismantle the social safety net, including health care, funding for Medicaid and food stamps, is not over. Will you take the pledge to be active during #ResistanceRecess to #ProtectOurCare and the #HIVBudget?  

To help you plan your next steps, check out our brand-new, hot-off-the-presses Resistance Recess Toolkit. Use it and share with your friends and fellow activists!

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Shyronn Jones, PWN-USA Policy Fellow, visits GA Sen. David Purdue’s office

We Won.

July 28: Let it sink in. Savor it. If victory is sweet, this is a whole chocolate cake with ice cream, whipped cream and cherries on top. The efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have died. And it’s all because of dedicated, determined advocates and activists like us.

We knew from the beginning that this was about far more than just politics. This was about our lives. So many of us gained real insurance coverage for the first time thanks to the ACA, whether through Medicaid expansion or because of its protections for preexisting conditions, its subsidies, its prohibition on lifetime caps or any of the myriad improvements it brought us.

For some of us, and for some of those we love, this has meant the difference between financial stability and bankruptcy–or even between life and death. Continue reading “We Won.”

PWNers Work to #KillTheBill from Coast to Coast

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Masonia Traylor at the People’s Filibuster in Washington, DC, June 27

Members of Positive Women’s Network-USA have dedicated enormous time and energy to stop the GOP repeal of the Affordable Care Act, first through the House Republicans’ “American Health Care Act” (AHCA), and now through the Senate Republicans’ “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA). We are fully aware that it has been a long haul, but the fight is not over yet. So we must keep that same momentum and fierce determination to #ProtectOurCare as we battle Trumpcare in the Senate.

We are in this fight together. Here are just a few things that our fierce PWN members and allies have been doing to spread awareness and stop this dangerous bill:

  • PWN-USA OH member Olga Irwin participated in a protest outside Sen. Portman’sOlga AHCA protest office and spoke to the media about her concerns with how Trumpcare could harm people living with HIV.
  • PWN-USA Board Member Venita Ray from Texas organized a phone bank in Houston: 5 people made 257 calls on Monday 6/26!
  • PWN-USA Colorado members have been protesting outside Senator Cory Gardner’s office in Denver, CO, and have been trying to chase him down during the recess–and recording and posting videos addressed to him, since he is dodging his constituents.
  • PWN-USA Board Member and PWN-USA TX Senior Member Evany Turk organized a 30 young adults to phone bank target Senators while visiting her mother in Chicago.
  • PWNer Masonia Traylor from Atlanta, GA, provided powerful testimony at the People’s Filibuster in Washington, DC. (see photo at top of story)
  • PWN-USA’s Executive Director Naina Khanna also spoke at this event (see photo below).Naina DC rally
  • PWN-USA Policy Fellow Shyronn Jones organized a meeting with Senator Perdue for July 6th, by using the PWN-USA Action Alert template to request an appointment with Senator Perdue, found a form on his website to request a meeting and got a meeting with State Director and State Policy Director. She also submitted an op-ed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • PWNers Gina Brown and Grissel Granados were among the 6 members of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS who resigned June 14 in protest of the administration’s lack of strategy or focus on the epidemic, highlighting the disastrous health care bills as evidence of its disregard for people living with and vulnerable to HIV.
  • PWNer Gina Brown submitted an op-ed to the Times-Picayune about her decision to leave PACHA, and was also interviewed and quoted by the Daily Beast, TheBody.com, and The Hill about her decision.
  • PWNer Grissel Granados had an op-ed published in SELF Magazine about her decision to resign from the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
  • PWNer Connie Rose from Las Vegas organized a phone bank in Nevada.
  • PWN ally Bryan Jones organized a phone bank in Cleveland.
  • PWN-USA Policy Fellow Arianna Lint participated in a protest of the health care bill outside Sen. Marco Rubio’s office.

Continue reading “PWNers Work to #KillTheBill from Coast to Coast”

All hands on deck to #ProtectOurCare!

 

May 3, 2017: This is not a drill, y’all. House Republicans are at it again, attempting to slash and burn health care access for millions of people in the US! In fact, they believe they have the votes lined up for a vote TOMORROW. We could lose health care that 1.2 million people with HIV and one in four Americans with pre-existing conditions depend on for survival.

We have been calling on you a lot but we urgently need you right now. If you do nothing else, call your representative RIGHT NOW to OPPOSE the Amended American Health Care Act (AHCA) Repeal Bill.  We are looking to move folks into the NO column below. Speak up and demand that your elected officials oppose the AHCA. Because our lives depend on it. Continue reading “All hands on deck to #ProtectOurCare!”

On #NWGHAAD, PWNers Assert and Celebrate #BodilyAutonomy

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March 16, 2017: For National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (#NWGHAAD), PWNers from coast to coast hosted and participated in events, in person and online, raising awareness and educating our communities about HIV and its impact on women and girls and asserting the bodily autonomy of women living with HIV.

From the Women Living Conference in Atlanta (PWNer Shyronn Jones shares her experience there in this blog) to a special event focused on the theme of bodily autonomy in Philadelphia, PWN-USA members and regional chapters took advantage of the occasion to speak out, share our stories and advocate for our rights. You can see the events PWN-USA members and chapters hosted, participated in and/or presented at here. And check out the slideshow above! Continue reading “On #NWGHAAD, PWNers Assert and Celebrate #BodilyAutonomy”

On #NWGHAAD, We Celebrate #BodilyAutonomy

March 10, 2017: Today is National Women & Girls HIV Awareness Day. In honor of the approximately 300,000 women living with HIV in the United States, please join Positive Women’s Network – USA in asserting and celebrating the bodily autonomy of all women and girls living with HIV, including women of trans experience.

NWGHAAD 17 graphic v2-01Yesterday, we presented Bodily Autonomy: A Framework to Guide Our Future in a special webinar (watch the recording here!) Today at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST, we continue the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #NWGHAAD and #BodilyAutonomy with special guests from HIVE, SisterSong, Desiree Alliance, The Well Project, Positively Trans, Arianna’s Center and Prevention Access Campaign. We invite you to join the conversation online! You can also access our complete #NWGHAAD #BodilyAutonomy social media toolkit here, complete with sample social media posts and shareable graphics.

The Bodily Autonomy Framework is available here (Download the printer-friendly PDF version of this framework here.)

Women and girls living with HIV across the U.S.: Today, and every day, we honor you. Allies: Thank you for your continued support and commitment to upholding the rights of women living with HIV.

A Price Too High – Speak Out Now!

December 16, 2016: Last month, the president-elect announced his decision to nominate ardent opponent of women’s health and the Affordable Care Act (ACA; a.k.a. “Obamacare”) Representative Tom Price (R-GA) to serve as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and health policy consultant Seema Verma as the chief administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Who is Tom Price?

Rep. Price, who is formerly a practicing orthopedic surgeon, has a long record of opposing abortion access and other reproductive rights and has voted several times to defund Planned Parenthood. He has also been a leader in the charge to repeal the ACA and supports shifting Medicaid programs to block grant funding structures with less federal oversight and fewer protections for low-income people.

Who is Seema Verma?

Verma worked alongside Vice President-elect Mike Pence as a key architect of Indiana’s Medicaid expansion program, which erected barriers to low income people maintaining coverage, such as requiring enrollees at the poverty line to pay into the program and penalizing missed contributions with lockouts or more restrictive plans lacking benefits like dental coverage.

What does this mean?

Rep. Price’s leadership of HHS–the government agency that houses Health Resources Services Administration/Bureau of HIV/AIDS (HRSA HAB), home to the Ryan White CARE Act providing care and treatment to hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and most federal health related agencies–could have grave consequences for women living with HIV. With Price and Verma at the helm of the federal health care system, safety net coverage and assistance programs could see unconscionable cuts in the name of free-market approaches and “personal choice.” This could hinder access to lifesaving treatment and even further curtail the reproductive autonomy of women living with HIV, who are more likely to be low-income and rely on publicly funded coverage options.

For more information on what’s at stake for women’s health if the ACA is repealed under Price’s leadership:

http://www.raisingwomensvoices.net/if-i-lose-coverage

http://familiesusa.org/blog/2016/12/urban-institute-finds-30-million-could-lose-health-insurance-under-aca-repeal

For more information on projected changes to Medicaid and other safety net programs:

http://www.cbpp.org/research/health/medicaid-block-grant-would-slash-federal-funding-shift-costs-to-states-and-leave

Take Action!

Both Verma and Rep. Price will be subject to senate confirmation by majority vote but will first be vetted by two key committees, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) and Finance Committee, likely in the first few weeks of the new year. Before these hearings take place, it is critical that we hold our elected officials accountable to vigorously interrogate the records of these nominees and press them to answer tough questions about their plans to dismantle the nation’s health care safety net, as well as the sexual and reproductive health care delivery systems our communities rely heavily upon.

Check here to see if your senator is a member of the Senate HELP or Finance Committee and call, write and/or tweet them to express your opposition to Rep. Tom Price as our next HHS Secretary and Seema Verma as the next administrator of CMS.

Sample script for email or phone call
Dear Senator:
My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [your state and city]. I’m [writing or calling] to express my opposition to the nomination of Rep. Tom Price to lead our nation’s federal health care system. The ACA has expanded coverage to more than 20 million people including people living with HIV. Rep. Price’s voting record reflects that he does not support access to the comprehensive healthcare needs of women living with HIV.

Dear Senator:
My name is [your name], and I am a constituent from [your state and city]. I’m [writing or calling] to express my opposition to the nomination Seema Verma to lead CMS. Medicaid program reforms as proposed under Verma’s leadership will prevent low income women living HIV from maintaining coverage and accessing life-saving treatment.

Sample tweet
@[Senator’s handle] We cannot afford to lose #healthcare! Please oppose@RepTomPrice for HHS & Seema Verma for CMS!

Honoring the Legacy of the Obama Administration on HIV

December 1, 2016: This #WorldAIDSDay, Positive Women’s Network – USA honors President Obama’s legacy in addressing the domestic HIV epidemic. Over the past eight years, the Obama Administration has advanced essential human rights protections for people living with HIV while ensuring meaningful involvement of the communities most impacted by HIV.

president_official_portrait_hiresIn 2010, President Obama formally finalized the repeal of the HIV travel ban, which barred entry into the U.S. of people living with HIV, allowing the International AIDS Conference to return to the U.S. following an absence of more than 2 decades. The move not only ended a policy of state-sanctioned discrimination, it conveyed an accurate public message that people living with HIV are not a public health threat, and that banning or isolating people living with HIV is not the way to fight the epidemic.

Candidate Barack Obama committed to develop and release a national plan to address the domestic HIV epidemic – a promise he fulfilled in July 2010 with the release of the first ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), a comprehensive approach to domestic HIV prevention, care, and social justice issues intersecting with human rights. In particular, we commend President Obama for the Administration’s focus within the NHAS on review and repeal of HIV criminalization laws, increased employment opportunities for people living with HIV, and, more recently, commitment to addressing HIV-related stigma through broad-based social action. The Affordable Care Act prohibited insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions (including HIV) and increased access to essential sexual and reproductive health services, including guaranteed coverage of contraception, preventive services for women’s health, and screening for domestic violence.

obama-wad-2013President Obama reactivated and redefined the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), which was first convened by President Clinton in 1995 but receded under President Bush, with few meetings or recommendations and some questionable appointments. Under President Obama, PACHA not only increased representation and meaningful participation of people living with HIV from impacted communities, including young people, people of color and of trans experience, but also maximized their expertise and contributions in developing the updated NHAS 2020 and the federal action plan.

We would additionally like to take this opportunity to honor and uplift the following individuals who have helped to vision, lead, and organize a coordinated and powerful domestic HIV response in the Obama Administration.

crowley_colorJeffrey Crowley

Jeff Crowley was the first Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy in the Obama Administration as well as Senior Advisor on Disability Policy, serving in these capacities from February 2009-December 2011. Jeff led the development of our country’s first domestic National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) for the United States, which continues to guide the Administration’s efforts in this area. He also coordinated disability policy development for the Domestic Policy Council and worked on the policy team that spearheaded the development and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Since leaving the White House, Jeff has remained deeply involved in the community and instrumental as a policy expert and thought leader on HIV, disability issues, and access to healthcare for low-income communities. Thanks, Jeff, for your ongoing commitment to people living with HIV.

gregorio-millettGregorio Millett, MPH

Detailed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Greg Millett served as Senior Policy Advisor at ONAP, helping to write the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Greg’s extensive research on HIV incidence among black gay and bisexual men has helped to frame a national conversation on the importance of addressing HIV in this community.

jamesalbino-e1311377540427-150x150James Albino

James Albino served as Senior Program Manager in the White House Office of National AIDS Policy during Jeff Crowley’s tenure, leaving to head the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico. While at ONAP, James was instrumental in the creation of the Federal Interagency Workgroup on HIV, Violence Against Women, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. He also championed a domestic focus on the Latinx community as well as funding and HIV services for Puerto Rico.

lynnrose_0Lynn Rosenthal

As Senior Advisor to Vice President Biden, Lynn Rosenthal served as the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and co-chaired the Federal Interagency Workgroup on HIV, Violence against Women, and Gender-related Health Disparities. Lynn’s commitment to hearing directly from impacted communities was clear to us, as was her background in leading direct service provision. As a keynote speaker at PWN-USA’s 2012 International AIDS Conference pre-conference for women living with HIV, Ms. Rosenthal stayed and spent time with our members for several hours to better understand their experiences. We value and appreciate this kind of commitment to the community.

grant-colfax-204x300Grant Colfax, MD

Grant Colfax served as Director of ONAP from March 2012 through December 2013, during which time he helped develop and launch the HIV Care Continuum Initiative, designed to increase access to HIV testing, care, and treatment rates.

 

 

douglas-brooksDouglas Brooks, MSW

Under Douglas Brooks’ leadership, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) was guided for the first time by a Black gay man openly living with HIV. He showed commitment to addressing the disproportionate impact of HIV on Southern states, gay and bisexual men, Black women, youth, and the transgender community, as well as to exploring and addressing the complexities of disclosure. We appreciate Douglas ensuring a focus on addressing stigma, as well, as employment, in the NHAS.

amy-lanksyAmy Lansky, PhD, MPH

Dr. Amy Lansky began serving as Director of ONAP in March 2016 upon Douglas Brooks’ departure and previously played a key role in the writing and release of NHAS 2020. Under Amy’s leadership, new developmental indicators for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy addressing stigma, and engagement in care and treatment for women of trans experience were released today. We are additionally appreciative of Amy’s presentation at PWN-USA’s Speak Up! Summit this September, demonstrating her commitment to advancing and investing in PLHIV leadership.