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Trump ‘Rolls Back’ Mandatory Birth Control Coverage

In their continued assault on women’s reproductive rights, the Trump administration just announced a new “roll back” of employer mandated coverage for birth control.

“The new regulations, effective immediately, would exempt all employers and insurers from covering or paying for coverage of contraceptives if they object “based on its sincerely held religious beliefs,” or have other “moral convictions” against covering such care,” wrote the Atlantic Magazine. “Employers were required to cover at least one of all of the 18 FDA-approved methods of birth control with no cost-sharing for the patient.”

The Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision saved women an estimated $1.4 billion on birth control pills in its first year alone. Thanks to this benefit, more than 62 million women now have access to birth control without copayments.

“The Trump administration just took direct aim at birth control coverage for 62 million women. This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. “With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, after the Affordable Care Act’s birth control provision took effect, fewer than 4 percent of American women had to pay out of pocket for oral birth control. That number was more than 20 percent before the law’s passage. Specifically in New Hampshire, 58% of women get their healthcare from their employer.

“Birth control is not controversial — it’s health care the vast majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime. Two million women rely on Planned Parenthood health centers each year for birth control. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use birth control in their lifetime.  This administration is carrying out a full-scale attack on birth control— eliminating insurance coverage for birth control, eliminating programs that help women with low incomes access birth control, and moving to prohibit health care providers from even giving women information about birth control or abortion. We cannot allow President Trump to roll back the progress women have made over the past century,” added Richards.

“This administration’s obsession with rolling back women’s reproductive rights and access to care is dangerous and reflects a shallow understanding of women’s health,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This order will undoubtedly increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions, at a time when both are at an all-time low. I will continue to fight for women’s access to coverage for preventative services, including birth control, and will oppose any effort that infringes on, or compromises, their reproductive freedom. I urge the President to consult health experts and reverse this ill-considered policy shift, and work with Democrats to improve access to healthcare, which includes reproductive health services. ”

Senator Shaheen is a dedicated advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Senator Shaheen has been fighting for years to increase coverage of women’s preventative care in the annual defense authorization bill, and just last month, added an amendment to an appropriations bill that would boost funding for international family planning and reproductive health programs, and repeal the Global Gag Rule.

“Protecting women’s rights to make their own reproductive health decisions is critical to ensuring that women can fully participate in our economy, and also in our democracy,” Senator Maggie Hassan said. “Rolling back full coverage, with no out of pocket costs, for birth control is a direct attack on women’s access to health care and on their right to make their own health care decisions. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use contraception at some point in their lives.  Since this benefit went into effect, women nationwide have saved over $1.4 billion on birth control, and this move by the Trump Administration would put a financial burden on hundreds of thousands of women. It is unacceptable that the Trump Administration has repeatedly worked to undermine women’s access to critical health services, and I will continue fighting back against these attacks, including working to ensure that all women have the essential preventative health services they need at no out-of-pocket cost.”

Earlier this year, Senator Hassan helped introduce the Save Women’s Preventative Care Act to ensure that coverage for preventative health care services, such as breast cancer screenings, birth control, and domestic violence screenings, can’t be revised or rolled back by the Trump Administration.

“I am outraged by the Trump Administration’s most sweeping attack yet on women’s access to health care,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “The vast majority of American women get their health insurance through an employer, and this rule will endanger their access to contraceptives, which are used by many women to treat medical conditions as well as to prevent unwanted pregnancy. We must defeat this rule and make it clear to President Trump that women and men reject this interference in access to birth control.”

“Birth control is an important medication for millions of women and efforts by the Trump Administration to limit access to contraceptives are appalling,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “The rule announced today would allow employers to deny coverage for contraceptives,  making them unaffordable for many women in New Hampshire and across the country. I will fight this misguided move by President Trump to deny access to what is truly basic health care.”

NH1 Senate Debate Roundup: Ayotte, Rubens Spar Over Who is More Anti-Women’s Health

Radical GOP Candidates Support Trump, Defunding Planned Parenthood, Banning Abortion 

CONCORD—Wednesday, Kelly Ayotte and Jim Rubens went head to head in the NH1 primary debate to prove once and for all that they are completely out of step with Granite Staters, who overwhelmingly support access to safe and legal abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood. 

Kelly Ayotte and Jim Rubens leaned hard into their support for Donald Trump, who has said women need a “punishment” for abortion, and their shared desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood. Kelly Ayotte even tried to one-up Ruben’s radical views on women’s health by enthusiastically citing her endorsement from the national Right to Life PAC.

When asked how she would fix the Affordable Care Act, Kelly Ayotte said she is for “patient choice” but neglected to mention that the ACA actually expanded consumer choices in NH (the exchange has grown from one carrier to five since 2015) and the law has provided nearly 100,000 Granite Staters with access to health care coverage. 

“If Kelly Ayotte truly believed in patient choice she wouldn’t have spent her career putting barriers between the women and low-income families who depend on health care access through Planned Parenthood,” said Victoria Bonney, Communications Manager at Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Kelly Ayotte is out of step with New Hampshire’s values and our state’s long tradition of empowering women to live healthy, independent, and productive lives.” 

According to the 2015 American Values Atlas, 73 percent of Granite Staters support access to abortion—the highest rate of support in the nation. Sixty six percent of New Hampshire residents believe Planned Parenthood should be fully funded.

UPDATED: NH’s Congressional Delegation Is Outraged Over The Hobby Lobby Decision (Well Most Of It Anyway)

In a very unsurprising decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.  The case was to determine if Hobby Lobby could be forced to have an insurance plan that would cover contraceptives that the Green family – the evangelical owners and operators of Hobby Lobby – say they disagree with on religious grounds.

In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that because Hobby Lobby was a privately owned corporation that is run by a small group of people who have the same religious beliefs that forcing their insurance plans to cover certain types of birth control infringed on their closely held religious beliefs.

“Americans shouldn’t be forced to comply with government mandates that violate core principles of their faith,” said Senator Kelly Ayotte. “This case is fundamentally a matter of religious freedom, and this ruling affirms Americans’ religious liberties as protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

This ruling means that the religious rights of the employer are more important than the personal rights of the employees.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lashed out in an epic dissent:

“The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage.”  She continued by stating, “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

This case is also chalk full of hypocrisy.

I guess “God’s will” only matters when it affects a woman’s right to choose, and not when it affects a man’s inability to perform.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today is incredibly disappointing,” stated Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “The debate over birth control was seemingly settled decades ago, and most companies and institutions had been offering birth control coverage as part of a health care package without controversy. This decision will only make some women’s lives even more difficult, and leaves me wondering what’s next from this activist Supreme Court.”

“Women should be making decisions about their health care with their doctors, not their employers,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Today’s Supreme Court decision unfortunately jeopardizes basic health care coverage and access to contraception for a countless number of women and I’m very disappointed by the ruling. Blocking access to contraception will have economic and public health consequences that our country cannot afford.”

“The Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case is a step backwards for New Hampshire women and their families,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Not only will this decision limit access to health care coverage for Granite State women, it will allow some employers to dictate a woman’s health care choices – something that can and should only be decided by each individual woman for herself. We must ensure that all women have access to comprehensive health coverage, and that they have the freedom to make choices about their own individual health care needs.”

The Affordable Care Act pushed insurance companies to fully cover preventative care for women – including contraception, when prescribed by a medical provider.  It also prohibits insurance companies from charging higher premiums for women than for men.  Before Obamacare, insurance companies could – and did – discriminate against women.  Charging women $1 billion more than men each year – and then giving them less coverage – was unfair and discriminatory.

One of the birth control options that Hobby Lobby disagreed with is the Internal Uterine Device (IUD). An IUD prevents a woman’s egg from implanting on the uterine wall, which prevents pregnancy.  Hobby Lobby makes the claim that this is abortion, because “life begins at conception.” But conception does not occur until after the egg is implanted.  So if an IUD prevents implantation, it prevents conception – and that means it’s contraception, just like the pill and condoms.

An IUD is extremely effective and has very low risk for women who choose to use it, although it can be expensive.

“It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage,” wrote Justice Bader Ginsberg in her dissent.

“Access to family planning services is critical for the health and economic security of women and families, as contraception costs are one of the biggest health care expenses for women and their families,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “While today’s Supreme Court decision is disappointing, I’m optimistic that employers will continue providing coverage for family planning services because it’s the right thing to do for workers, it will help businesses attract high-quality employees, and it will strengthen the economic security of working families.”

This attack on women’s reproductive rights is nothing new.  Conservatives have been trying to limit a women’s right to choose since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v Wade over 50 years ago.  When Republicans took control of the New Hampshire House in 2011, a new firestorm of attacks on women’s right was initiated.

“In 2011, the Executive Council took the radical step of eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, blocking access to health services for thousands of Granite State women,” stated Executive Counselor Chris Pappas. “That was the wrong decision for New Hampshire families then just as the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is wrong now.  Access to contraception and basic family planning services is critical for women’s health and economic security.  As an employer and owner of a family-run business, I know first-hand that important health decisions must be left up to women and their physicians.” (Emphasis added)

It continues to show that this Supreme Court and their conservative majority are out of touch with real working families, and are basing their rulings on their ideological positions.

More and more, it seems that the majority of the Supreme Court better represents the interests of the Chamber of Commerce than it does the values and aspirations of working Americans. Workers’ rights should not depend on whether their employer—while buying and selling to everyone regardless of religion—wants to limit their reproductive rights based on privately held religious beliefs,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “That this decision, which disproportionately affects women, coincides with the Harris v. Quinn decision, which limits rights of home healthcare workers in Illinois—the vast majority of whom are women—is a throwback to another age. Working families, especially working women, have lost here.”

There is no doubt our national healthcare system was broken.  The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, fixing some of the major wrongs.  An insurance company can no longer deny coverage if you get sick; they can no longer deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition; their profits are limited by the 80/20 rule; and many more.

In my opinion the problem is that we are still relying on private insurance companies for health care.  For-profit institutions are making decisions about what our healthcare should be.  The problem is only compounded by our reliance on employer-supplied healthcare.

In Justice Alito’s decision, he implied that if the government truly wants to find a way to cover all of these contraceptives then the government is going to have to find a way to pay for it themselves.

To me, the solution is simple: Medicare for all.  If everyone were on Medicare, or any other version of a single payer system, the opinions of an employer would be moot.  An employer would never be able to restrict coverage for its women employees (or its men employees, for that matter).

Arnie Arnesen, a local radio personality summed it all up perfectly, “If Medicare is good enough for a 65 year old man, then why is it not good enough for a 6 year old girl?”

Cecile Richards (Planned Parenthood) Calls Maggie Hassan a Champion for Women’s Health

Blasts Ovide Lamontagne’s Radical Ideas That Will Increase Health Care Costs for Women and Families

CONCORD – Cecile Richards, the President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund*, praised Democratic candidate for Governor Maggie Hassan as a “longtime champion of women’s right to control their own health care” at a Women for Maggie press conference today.  Richards and Hassan were joined by Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen, House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli, and numerous Women for Maggie members who came out to show their support for Maggie Hassan’s vision to keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward by including everyone as equals.

“The stakes for women’s health and rights are higher than ever in this election, and I am proud to support Maggie Hassan for governor of New Hampshire,” said Richards.  “Access to affordable health care, including birth control, is a basic economic issue for women and families. Ovide Lamontagne is far outside the mainstream on women’s health, and New Hampshire can’t afford his extreme agenda. Maggie Hassan will stand up to the Tea Party agenda and she has the right plan to keep New Hampshire moving forward.”

Ovide Lamontagne has tried to dismiss issues related to “reproductive rights … whatever those are.” In response to questions from voters, he has said, it is not “topical” and not “central” to the campaign, and criticized people for raising the issue. He has even tried to suggest that a Governor couldn’t impact access to birth control or abortion, although his allies have already filed legislation that would ban abortion in the first six weeks.

“We face a clear choice in this election. ” said Hassan.  “My ‘Innovate NH’ jobs plan focuses on making sure all of our citizens can participate equally in our economy.  Ovide thinks women should sacrifice their freedom, their economic security and control over their health care to his radical agenda. I believe that we can have a strong economy, create jobs and still protect the freedom and liberty of all of our citizens. In this election, we can either move forward, building on the foundation established by Governor Lynch, to help our businesses and families succeed, or we can go radically backward in the direction proposed by Ovide Lamontagne and the Tea Party legislature.”

Like Ovide Lamontagne, the current legislature claimed that it was focused on “jobs and the economy,” and then pushed numerous bills aimed at restricting access to abortion; defunding Planned Parenthood; and letting insurance companies drop coverage for birth control.

“The only thing slowing down some of these bills was the promise of a veto from Governor John Lynch. Just like this legislature, Ovide Lamontagne is not being straight with us about what he would do as Governor,” said House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli. “While he has repeatedly said women’s health care issues don’t matter, Ovide Lamontagne has confessed that he will sign any anti-choice legislation that comes to his desk – even if it banned abortion for victims of rape and incest.”

Ovide Lamontagne has been endorsed by the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, and has long supported an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban abortion, even for the victims of rape and incest. He has said he would sign legislation defunding Planned Parenthood and bills restricting access to abortion.

“The good news is that women don’t have to choose between their health care and the economy. Maggie Hassan has a plan to build our economy and support the efforts of our businesses to create jobs – without sacrificing the health care or equality of women,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen.

Maggie Hassan has a strong record of standing up for a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and strongly opposes the legislature’s recent attacks on women’s health care, such as measures to restrict the right to choose and to defund Planned Parenthood, making services like cancer screenings, fertility treatments, and access to birth control more expensive and less available.

Hassan’s “Innovate NH” jobs plan will help businesses grow and keep New Hampshire’s economy moving forward by focusing on education to build the best workforce in the country, providing tax credits to businesses, and giving businesses technical assistance to help them create jobs.

Ovide Lamontagne has said he would be a “radically different” governor than Governor Lynch, with extreme positions like repealing the guarantee of public kindergarten; rejecting federal funds for local schools;  and ignoring rising tuition costs caused by cuts to higher education. He supports plans to dismantle Medicare, criminalize abortion – even in the case of rape or incest – and limit insurance coverage for birth control, and defund Planned Parenthood, increasing costs for critical health care services for New Hampshire women and families.

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