Healthcare

Colorado Just Capped the Price of Insulin at $100/mo

Colorado has become the first state in the United States to pass legislation to limit the out of pocket price of insulin sold in their state. Starting in January 2020, the law states that those paying co-payments for the lifesaving drug under private insurance plans will only have to pay up to $100 for a 30-day supply. This is a substantial cut from the 2016 national average of a person with type 1 diabetes paying annual insulin costs of $5,705, or $475.41 a month— which is double the national average from 2012.

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While signing the bill into law Governor Jared Polis said, “today we will finally declare that the days of insulin price-gouging are over in Colorado,” as reported by the local Denver CBS affiliate. He later described how some residents were paying as much as $600-$900 a month for their prescriptions to be refilled.

The reduction in costs will be welcome to those who get their insulin through private insurance. According to the Colorado Health Institute, “the state’s insurance rate is 93.5 percent, essentially unchanged from the all-time high of 93.3 percent set in 2015.“ This means that the legislation going into effect next year will cover the vast majority of Colorado citizens, which will hopefully begin to set a precedent for other states to follow.

Since the legislation only affects the out of pocket price of insulin, covered by private insurance, unfortunately those who are uninsured will not be covered by the new law, exemplifying a need for a more equal healthcare system where medically necessary drugs like insulin don’t get caught up in politics or drug company price gouging.

While this legislation doesn’t fully address the main issue at large, which is everyone should have access to healthcare and not get priced out from medicine that they need, it does go a long way in the state of Colorado by guaranteeing that the majority of those in Colorado will be affected by the law, and will hopefully spread to other states.

Get Involved: Nationwide 'Stop the Abortion Bans' Days of Action

We’re only five months into 2019, but in these short five months, eight different states have passed bills to limit abortion procedures: Utah, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, and Alabama. Alabama has implemented the most extreme of these abortion bans, making abortions illegal except in situations where an abortion would be necessary to save a mother’s life. There are no exceptions for survivors of rape and incest. Doctors who perform abortion procedures in Alabama could face up to 99 years in prison

Women’s March - Chicago, Illinois

Women’s March - Chicago, Illinois

The Alabama abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional — it flouts the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, Roe v. Wade. Although it may not make sense for a state to pass a law that is so blatantly unconstitutional, the Alabama abortion ban is actually designed to go all the way to the Supreme Court, with the hope of overturning Roe v. Wade altogether. 

It is completely unconscionable for the government to dictate what a person can do with their body. No one should be forced to endure an unwanted pregnancy. Safe abortions should be readily available, no questions asked. Low-income women, women of color, and nonbinary or trans people are most vulnerable to effects of the Alabama abortion ban — their opportunities to travel outside of Alabama to get a safe abortion are extremely limited. The Alabama abortion ban is a blatant attempt to nullify reproductive rights in the United States, stripping women of any modicum of control over their own bodies.

If you’re interested in fighting back against these abortion restrictions, you can visit stopabortionbans.org, which hosts a wide variety of pro-choice protests that will be occurring all over the country over the next couple of days. These protests are sponsored by a wide variety of organizations, including Beyond the Women’s March, Planned Parenthood, Moveon, and the Women’s Rights Coalition. You can enter your zip code into the search bar to find the closest protests to you. Publicly voicing your opposition to these obvious attempts to strip women of their rights can be a powerful way to convince lawmakers that their actions endanger women, and could even threaten their chances at reelection. 

Women’s March - Chicago, Illinois

Women’s March - Chicago, Illinois

You can also donate to small reproductive rights organizations that are doing crucial work to make safe abortions accessible in states that have passed or are passing restrictive abortion bans. The Yellowhammer Fund, the National Network of Abortion Funds, the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, and the Gateway Women’s Access Fund are all incredible resources for low-income patients, LGBT patients, and people of color who are directly impacted by these abortion restrictions. Finally, you can volunteer to become an abortion clinic escort. Especially in abortion-restrictive states, many abortion clinics are regularly picketed by anti-abortion protesters, who verbally and even physically harass people on their way to receive an abortion procedure. Abortion clinic escorts help accompany women from their cars to the clinic, protecting them from the harassment of anti-abortion picketers and making them feel safer. 

The Alabama abortion ban and other abortion restrictions like it can feel incredibly discouraging and disheartening. Let your anger and sadness galvanize you into action — there are so many ways that you can fight these restrictions on a local, state, and national level. If reproductive rights matter to you, take a stand!

Learn more at stopabortionbans.org

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Universal Health Coverage Should Be a Fundamental Human Right

Although the United States is currently classified by the Human Development Index (HDI) as the 13th most developed nation on Earth, it still lacks one of the most fundamental human rights: a system for assuring that all of its residents are able to afford and receive healthcare. In fact, out of the HDI’s top 15 most developed nations, the United States is the only one that does not currently implement some sort of functioning universal healthcare system. The debate surrounding universal healthcare in the US is definitely nuanced, but ultimately, the argument for universal healthcare boils down to the notion that health is a basic human right. 

This is by no means a new concept — the constitution of the World Health Organization, which was written in 1948, declared universal health coverage to be a fundamental human right. There are three crucial objectives to universal health coverage: first, that everyone receives health services, not just those who can pay for them; second, that these health services effectively improve the wellbeing of those who receive them; third, that receiving these health services does not negatively impact the financial situations of patients. In short, universal health coverage seeks to ensure that no one forgoes receiving necessary healthcare because they can’t afford it. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. 

Although universal health coverage, sometimes referred to as ‘Medicaid for All,’ might seem like a lofty goal, it is possible. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 18 countries have fully achieved universal health coverage, which means that 100% of their population is covered by adequate health insurance. Many other nations, including Austria, Japan, and Spain, have achieved near-universal health coverage, which means that over 98% of their population is covered by adequate health insurance. In comparison to these nations, the US is actually lagging behind — as of late 2017, less than 88% of Americans reported being covered by adequate health insurance. Although the United States prides itself on being one of the most developed and prosperous countries in the world, it cannot claim to be a frontrunner when it comes to ensuring the health of its populace. 

Most Americans with health insurance are covered by employer-sponsored private coverage. Other Americans receive health insurance by qualifying for Medicare or Medicaid. Finally, a small percentage of Americans receive health insurance through the US military or Veterans Administration. However, this still leaves almost 30 million Americans who are not covered by any kind of health insurance. 

For people who are just starting to research the arguments behind universal healthcare in the United States, trying to make sense of the different kinds of health insurance systems can be incredibly confusing. There are three major ways that countries can achieve the goal of universal health coverage: a single-payer system, a two-tier system, and an insurance mandate. Of the 32 nations that offer universal health coverage, 16 utilize a single-payer system, 9 utilize a two-tier system, and 7 utilize an insurance mandate. 

In single-payer systems, the federal government is singlehandedly responsible for providing health insurance, which is funded by taxes. However, the actual healthcare services can either be government-run or contracted from private organizations. Nations with single-payer systems include the UK, Canada, and Norway. The US actually does have a modified single-payer healthcare system, Medicare, but not all US residents qualify for it. Most people who qualify for Medicare are retirees over the age of 65. However, you can also qualify for Medicare if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance or have been diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. If you don’t fall under any of these categories, then you cannot benefit from a single-payer health insurance system in the US. 

In two-tier systems, a basic government health insurance plan is mandatory for all residents. This plan is funded using taxes and covers basic services, including hospital services and general practitioners. However, additional services that are not covered by the basic government health insurance plan are offered privately, and can be paid for out-of-pocket, or by purchasing a supplementary private insurance plan. That being said, the nuances of individual two-tier systems vary from country to country. Nations with two-tier health insurance systems include France, Australia, and Singapore.

Finally, insurance mandates require that all the residents of a country are covered by some form of health insurance, with the bare minimum policies covering hospitalizations and outpatient medical treatment. Nations with insurance mandates include Germany, South Korea, and Switzerland. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, is a form of insurance mandate, with the goal of ensuring that all American residents are covered by some kind of health insurance. 

Many people are confused about what the ACA is actually supposed to do. One of the biggest ACA reforms is the establishment of public health insurance exchanges, which are like marketplaces that allow individuals and families to seek out and buy affordable and comprehensive health insurance plans. The ACA also provides increased government subsidies to help low and middle-income families afford health insurance. Additionally, it prohibits insurance companies from refusing service or charging higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions, making health insurance more affordable and accessible to all. The ACA also prohibits insurance companies from placing an annual or lifetime cap on how much money they’re willing to pay for an individual’s healthcare. Finally, the ACA requires all companies with at least 50 employees to offer affordable, comprehensive health insurance to all of their full-time employees. 

Although the ACA has made considerable strides towards the goal of achieving universal health coverage for all Americans, it’s not a perfect system, and has faced considerable pushback, especially from Republican politicians. One of the ACA’s major flaws involves Medicaid, a program established in the 1980s to provide affordable healthcare for low-income Americans. When the ACA was first established, one of its main goals was to expand Medicaid to all 50 states in the hopes that more low-income individuals could gain access to affordable health insurance. However, in 2012, the Supreme Court declared the expansion of Medicaid unconstitutional, which means that individual states are still allowed to opt out of providing expanded Medicaid coverage to their residents. As of 2019, 37 states (including Washington DC) have adopted the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, but 14 states have chosen not to. This has created a coverage gap for low-income individuals in these 14 states, which means that about 2 million Americans still do not have affordable or accessible health coverage. Until all Americans, including those who live at or under the poverty line, are given access to affordable healthcare, we cannot claim to be a nation that values the fundamental human right of health. 

In March of 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it wanted to overthrow the entire Affordable Care Act, nullifying advances in healthcare coverage for over 30 million Americans. To do this, the Trump Administration is banking on a lawsuit against the ACA, Texas v. Azar, which seeks to declare the entirety of the ACA unconstitutional. Legal scholars are divided on whether or not this lawsuit poses a serious threat to the ACA, so in the coming months, the Texas v. Azar suit is definitely something to keep your eye on if you’re interested in following the debate surrounding the ACA. To combat the Trump Administration, House Democrats recently introduced a bill to strengthen the Affordable Care Act. Provisions in this bill include increasing subsidies for low-income individuals, expanding federal assistance to include individuals at higher income levels, and fixing the ACA’s notorious “family glitch,” which currently makes it difficult for employed individuals to afford insurance plans that include their spouses and children. However, because of rampant partisanship in Congress, it’s still unclear whether this bill will make any ground. 

Universal healthcare and ‘Medicaid for All’ has become the battleground of a fierce partisan debate, with Republicans and Democrats vying for political power by trying to repeal or strengthen the ACA. Although the debate swirling around universal health coverage and the ACA can be incredibly tense and confusing, it’s important to always keep in mind the core tenet of human rights that serves as the foundation of the argument for universal healthcare. Regardless of what form it ends up taking, access to quality healthcare is a fundamental human right, and every attempt to deny this healthcare is a degradation of the United States’ commitment to upholding human rights. 

Planned Parenthood's Latest Campaign Is Unstoppable

Throughout history, women taking charge of themselves, their bodies, careers and life choices, has seemingly been deemed revolutionary, sometimes rebellious, but without those powerful strides, who’s to say where women would be. There is an endless list of things that women would lack without the movements that took and are currently taking place. Certainly, facilities such as Planned Parenthood wouldn’t exist and while that may seem smaller-scale in a big picture for some, it’s nothing small for those who utilize their services.

Founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, shared her knowledge, activism and strong-will with the world when she began studying and educating women on birth control methods. Her knowledge was seen as threatening and brought on time in jail for her sister Ethel Byrne, an activist Fania Mindell and herself — the crimes charged were all related to sharing and educating others on birth control methods. 

The first Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau was opened in 1923, in Manhattan which provided birth control devices to women. The bureau also collected information and statistics about the safety of the devices on hand and the overall, long-term effects of it. This start lead to the legalization of birth control, bringing forth an entirely new era for women. Despite the reservations had when it came to Planned Parenthood, they remained strong for over 100 years after its original inception in 1913. Today there have been 650 clinics opened and Planned Parenthood isn’t stopping there — a new campaign has risen to ensure that Planned Parenthood remains “the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider, educator and advocate,” according to the Unstoppable website

Unstoppable is a Planned Parenthood powered campaign to continue fighting for the right to ensure everyone is able to have full control of their bodies to achieve true freedom and equality. The plan is also tackling other issues that many Americans face — needing support as a parent or caregiver, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, equal pay, proper care and prevention for sexual assault and harassment and of course, reproductive rights. 

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Unstoppable’s user-friendly website shares a surplus of facts as well as ways in which to help the movement forward. Their mission for parents and caregivers is to provide family leave for those who have had babies and ensure that the proper maternity care is provided for women. The site makes note of the rising childcare costs in a nation, the only developed one at that, that does not guarantee paid family leave. Single parents are found paying 36% of their earned income to provide their children with adequate care while they head back to work. For married parents, the cost is 10% of their earned income. 

Women of color find themselves in a tougher situation seeing that, statistically, they’re paid less, which makes childcare much more expensive. American Progress reports that 50% of monthly income is spent on childcare for low-income families. According to the Census Bureau American Community Survey, the low-income, working families make up 10.4 million of the nation’s population, earning roughly $45,000 per year. Planned Parenthood is patterned with National Partnership for Women and FamiliesMomsRising and SisterSong  —several organizations that are hoping to inform, educate and change the current state of family leave.

Planned Parenthood is also partnered with National LGBTQ Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality to continue ensuring that everyone is comfortable in their bodies and sexuality without fearing discrimination. The Unstoppable campaign hopes to dismantle the work that the Trump-Pence administration is doing to devalue the lives of the LGBTQ+ community. The Trump-Pence administration has tried to reestablish a ban that prohibits trans people from joining the military, changing rules that protect trans people in their place of employment and even supporting court cases by making anti-gay discrimination legal. 

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Unstoppable believes that healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community should be high-quality, affordable and informative while providing the freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to their bodies, health and lives without the worry of feeling misunderstood, discriminated against or judged. 

Planned Parenthood has been offering affordable services for the last 100 years and they’re hoping to move forward with affordable care. Unstoppable shares that The Affordable Care Act or ACA managed to help 20 million Americans get coverage while making insurance more affordable which ended the discrimination many experiences when being refused coverage due to preexisting conditions or overcharging women for insurance. 

Despite the Affordable Care Act, health care remains costly for many Americans. With health care prices through the roof and the trickle down effects of systematic racism, women and people of color — women of color, especially — find themselves running into financial blockade when it comes to paying for care and insurance.  The LGBTQ+ community also find it hard to find adequate care due to their needs, but adding the barriers of medical discrimination and bias, doesn’t help one bit. 

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The Trump-Pence administration is also trying to change laws that will cause millions of people to lose their insurance coverage and their premium will cost even more than it already does. The administration is also making its way to destroy the Medicaid program which could result in 1 of every 5 Americans — majority women — to lose access to and benefits from the program. Unstoppable is working hard to change the number of people in the nation who still don’t have health insurance, which according to Vox, is still around 28 million. 

The campaign is also working towards eliminating sexual assault, harassment and any and every other form of sexual violence. While anyone can experience sexual violence, Unstoppable notes that women, people of color, those with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community are more prone to experiencing sexual violence. The campaign defines sexual assault as “a use of force, coercion or an imbalance of power to make a person engage in sexual activity.” While rape is a form of sexual assault, it can take other forms such as forced and non-consented kissing, groping or touching. These forced actions are often done to degrade, humiliate, exude power over someone. There are certain people who shouldn’t be making these kinds of sexual advantages or forcing these actions on you — those people include family members, teachers, mentors, bosses or anyone who, under any circumstance, has more power over you. 

Last up on the campaign’s mission is equal pay and equal opportunity for women. Women make up a major contribution to the workforce with 74 million women in the United States who work outside of the home. Of the 74 million, two out of every three mothers are either the primary or co-breadwinner in their homes. Despite the numbers, women are still fighting to be paid fairly, let alone equally, to their male counterparts. 

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The pay gap also affects women of color to a different extent — black women earn 63 cents to every dollar that a white or a non-hispanic man earns, Latinas earn around 54 cents to the dollar and white women earn 78 cents. While these cents may seem small, when the figures stack up, women lose around $10,000 annually, according to NWLC

Unstoppable has several ways to help all of the aforementioned causes — signing the manifesto, spreading the word, posting a story to your Instagram, purchasing an Unstoppable tee-shirt or by making a donation. With gathered help, dedication and persistence, change is possible and Unstoppable is working hard to make it happen.

To learn more about Unstoppable, you can visit their website. You can also follow Planned Parenthood on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or make a donation to them on their website.

You can also follow Adelfa Marr on Twitter, or find her at her personal website.