From our partners at Raising Women's Voices:
News about the Trump-backed lawsuit to repeal the ACA, which will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 10, has no doubt created confusion about whether the ACA will continue to exist. Moreover, Trump’s nomination of Barrett, who has openly spoken out against the ACA, to fill the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has further increased public uncertainty about the future of the ACA. That’s why it’s important to let people know that as of now, nothing has changed, and the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.
While the lawsuit challenging the ACA will go before the court next month, no decision on it will be released until next June (the traditional time period for SCOTUS decisions to be handed down). Moreover, it is possible that SCOTUS would strike down only the individual mandate provision of the ACA, not the entire legislation. Exactly that possibility was raised prominently during Barrett’s confirmation hearing in a discussion about the “severability” of one portion of a law that is found to be unconstitutional from the remainder of the legislation, which would still stand.
So, how should we reassure people who may be eligible for ACA coverage and encourage them to apply starting November 1? Here are some of the key messages that we want to get out for Open Enrollment:
Election Day is ON.
While Governor Evers tried to postpone today's election for the safety of Wisconsinites, the State Supreme Court order the election to take place.
We know it's been incredibly confusing, so here's some information to help you navigate today's election day:
You can vote in person at the polls until 8:00 PM. You still need ID. You can still register to vote at the polls. These rules have not changed.
If you have an absentee ballot in hand, you can still mail it! ALL ABSENTEE BALLOTS MUST BE POSTMARKED OR RETURNED TO YOUR CLERK'S OFFICE, DESIGNATED POLLING PLACE, OR DROP BOX (IF AVAILABLE) BEFORE 8:00 PM ON APRIL 7th.
If you plan to mail your absentee ballot, be sure to take it to a post office so it will be postmarked with a date. Dropping your ballot in a neighborhood collection box will not ensure that it's postmarked on April 7th. Ballots postmarked after April 7th will not be counted.
Clerks will be allowed to continue counting mailed absentee ballots as they are received, until April 13th, as long as they are postmarked by April 7th. Because of this we won't know election results until April 13th.
VOTING AT THE POLLS
Voters are still assigned to designated polling places (like normal) BUT YOUR POLLING PLACE MIGHT NOT BE WHERE IT USUALLY IS. Check with your municipal clerk to make sure you are headed to the right place. Find your clerk here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/MyMunicipalClerk
Due to a shortage of poll workers, many cities have had to drastically reduce the number of polling places, and in some areas, you might have to drive to another town to vote.
MORE ABOUT ABSENTEE BALLOTS
If you requested an absentee ballot but did not receive it yet, you can vote in person at your polling place. The poll worker will be able to tell that you had requested an absentee ballot and may ask you if you received it and if you already returned it. Because you didn't receive it yet, you will be issued a new ballot and may vote at the polls.
Likewise, if you received your absentee ballot, but did not return it yet, you will be issued a new ballot and may vote at the polls.
As long as you haven't already returned an absentee ballot (by mail, drop off, or any other method) -- you have the right to be issued a new ballot and vote in person on election day.
If you received your absentee ballot, and already returned it (with or without a witness signature or other statement), you will not be allowed to vote at the polling place.
There are no in-person ballot drop offs allowed after April 7th -- including for print-at-home ballots. If you are utilizing a drop box on election day, be sure to check the "last pickup time" and don't wait until the last minute. Clerks will be emptying drop boxes before 8:00 so they can get the ballots back to their office by the 8:00 PM deadline.
Report problems with absentee ballots here: https://www.wheresmyballotwi.org/
If you have questions, or need help or additional resources, Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)!
From the Raising Women's Voices :
Today, Congress is expected to give final approval to a $2.2 trillion relief package designed to respond to both the health and economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The president has said he will sign it. Called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the package is also known as “phase 3” because two earlier COVID-related funding bills have already been enacted (including one we covered last week), this week’s package is the largest spending bill (by far) ever passed in the United States — 2.8 times bigger than the 2009 stimulus package. The bill came together quickly over the course of 10 days and was negotiated largely without public input.
There have been conflicting reports about what the package does and does not do, and we may not know for weeks what certain provisions mean in practice or how the administration is going to implement them. But we can give you a sense of the top line impact on women and families.
Based on our initial reviews of the legislation, the bill does the following things:
As massive as the package is, however, it almost certainly doesn’t go far enough in helping families, funding health care or preparing for the future. One indication of how deep the looming recession is likely to be: initial unemployment claims spiked to 3.3 million last week, more than quadrupling the highest number of initial jobless claims ever recorded in the US. (For contrast, initial unemployment claims peaked at 665,000 during the Great Recession.)
Members of Congress are already talking about a possible “phase 4” COVID-19 package. But alarmingly, both chambers are preparing to recess for weeks without a clear plan in place for how to vote (or meet with constituents) in the face of this once-in-a-century pandemic. What happens if our senators and representatives can’t fly back to Washington for a vote? How can Congress hold the Trump administration accountable for their disastrous handling of the pandemic, or push for increased production of health care equipment, if they aren’t here?
Governor Tony Evers declared a Stay at Home order. What does it mean?
For how long?
Can I leave my home for any reason? You can leave for essential activities. You can go to a:
You can also:
If you are an employee at an essential business, you can go to:
Do I need special permission or paperwork to leave my home?
No. You do not need special permission or paperwork if you leave for a reason
listed above (an essential activity).
What are NOT essential activities? You cannot go to:
What if I’m homeless?
What if my home is not safe?
What is social distancing?
What about my business?
Non-essential businesses must close:
What if I don’t follow this order?
You might have to:
Link here for Spanish version
On October 11, 2019 judges stopped the new "public charge" rule from taking effect. This may change, but in the meantime, it it NOT in effect.
What is "public charge"?
When a person applies for a visa or green card, immigration officials may use the“public charge” test to determine if they are likely to need help paying for things like food, housing or health care in the future. Someone judged a “public charge” can be denied a visa or green card, unless they qualify for an exemption.
"Public charge" does NOT affect you if you live in the US and...
If you are in one of these groups, you will NOT face a "public charge" test. You can enroll in any health plan without concern for public charge.
If you are NOT in one of the four groups listed on the front of this fact sheet, you may face the "public charge" test when you apply for a visa or green card.
What health care coverage may count against you in a "public charge" test?
The ONLY health insurance program that MAY count against you in a "public charge" test is regular Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin.
Which Medicaid program will NOT count against you in a "pubic charge" test?
What are the OTHER health care programs that DO NOT count in a "public charge" test?
If you are concerned about "public charge", talk to someone who can help you look at all your options. Got to ailalawyer.com to fina an immigration lawyer near you.
Why is strong gun reform a high priority for WAWH? Gun violence is a women’s health issue and a domestic abuse issue. More than 50% of intimate partner homicide victims in American are killed by males with a gun, and in over 50% of mass shootings the victims were intimate partners or family members.  The presence of a gun in domestic violence situations can increase the risk of homicide for women by as much as 500 percent.
Gov. Tony Evers has called the legislature into special session November 7th to take up gun reform legislation. The two bills to be taken up this week are bills that address Background Checks loopholes (AB 431) and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO).
As of 11/4/19, there have been 357 mass shootings, 32,991 people killed and 24,983 people injured by guns in our country this year . These numbers include 589 children injured or killed age 11 and under, and 2,580 teens ages 12-17. As you read this, these numbers are already outdated, because with each passing day, they rise.
After each mass shooting, people express outrage, anger, sadness. A common theme echoes across social media platforms, the helplessness to make it stop. The attention quickly fades away, until the next major mass shooting - which we all know is coming, we just don’t know when or where.
It is well within the power of our state legislators change this cycle, but to date Wisconsin's Republican-led legislature has not engaged on gun reform despite polling on this issue showing that 80% of Wisconsin voters support universal background check legislation, including 75% of households that own a gun. However the gun lobby, in particular the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), has very deep pockets, and their priorities are not in line with the general public.
We need our legislators to listen to their constituents, the people who elected them to their positions, and pass laws that will reduce gun deaths and violence in Wisconsin. We need to make our schools, churches and public places safer. Governor Evers has made it clear that he supports meaningful gun reform and would sign good legislation into law. Public support is firmly behind smart measures to curb violence, including universal background checks.
Below is an outline of some of the strong gun reform legislation introduced in Wisconsin this session that WAWH supports. Please contact your legislators to ask them to protect Wisconsin by supporting and ensuring these bills become law. This isn’t about political and partisanship, it is about saving lives.
Universal Background Checks:
Wisconsin’s needs to enact Universal Background Check legislation as it has been proven to save women’s lives. In states that have universal background checks, women are 46% less likely to be shot to death by intimate partners. A 2018 poll showed that the vast majority, a whopping 81% of Wisconsin voters are in favor of background checks, including 78% of gun-owning households.
Rep. Sargent and Sen. Johnson introduced AB431, a Universal Background Check bill that would close Wisconsin’s current loopholes. Currently a background check is not required when guns are purchased at a gun show or via a private seller. Governor Evers is strongly in support of this legislation, and would sign it into law if it passed the Assembly and Senate. However, Republican leadership has been vocal about their unwillingness to engage despite such strong public support. Pressure needs to mount on this issue. Our legislators on both sides of the aisle need to make this a priority.
Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO):
Rep. Sargent and Sen. Taylor just introduced AB573/SB530, which would create an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) process where if a person is likely to injure themselves or another, a family member or law enforcement officer can petition to temporarily prevent the person from possessing a firearm.
Red Flag Laws:
Assembly Bill 334, introduced in early July, would prohibit individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a firearm and possession of a firearm by people found not guilty due to mental disease or defect. Given the documented nexus between domestic abuse and gun homicides, this legislation is crucial to protect lives.
48-Hour Waiting Period:
Senate Bill 312, introduced on June 7th (National Gun Violence Awareness Day), would restore Wisconsin’s 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases. Wisconsin had a waiting period on the books until 2015, when the Wisconsin legislature eliminated the requirement that a federally licensed firearm dealer wait 48 hours to transfer a handgun. Research has shown that waiting periods can reduce gun homicides by 17% and gun suicides by 7-11%.  Wisconsin needs this legislation restored.
We are not helpless. We have the power of our vote and must reach out to our elected officials to make our expectations crystal clear. Good legislation, aimed at reducing gun violence and deaths, is introduced each session just to be ignored and languish. Given what we know about gun violence, and the proven effectiveness of specific types of legislation, inaction by legislators equals complicity.
What you can do:
At a time when women need access to as much evidence-based, medically accurate information about their reproductive health as possible, there is a wide-spread effort to mislead and lie to women through so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" or CPCs, fake health clinics run by anti-choice organizations.
There are more than 3,000 CPCs across the country (over 80 in Wisconsin), and they are usually strategically located near hospitals and abortion clinics in order to confuse or harass women. They may offer free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, and diapers, despite often having no doctors or licensed medical professionals on the premises. Their websites typically advertise “abortion information” and "pregnancy options counseling," or carry slogans like “We inform. You decide.”
However, these centers are not licensed medical facilities, and they neither provide nor refer patients for abortion care. Instead, they actively dissuade pregnant people from seeking and obtaining abortions by manipulating and shaming pregnant people, and by spreading falsehoods regarding the safety and outcomes of the safe and legal medical procedure. Much of this misinformation is fabricated based loosely on flawed, biased, or outdated studies, and does not in any way reflect the current scientific and medical evidence regarding abortion care.
What are these fake health centers?
These centers pretend to be medical clinics that offer health care services and
all-options counseling for pregnant people. THEY DO NOT. These fake centers are funded by anti-abortion groups and go by different names like "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) and "pregnancy resource centers." Their aim is to prevent people who are pregnant from accessing abortion in a timely manner. They advertise services such as pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, and resources. Some even say they offer abortion referrals. However, in reality, they fail to provide medically accurate information and even mislead women about their abortion care options.
If you notice any of these signs, it may be a fake health center:
Learn more about our efforts to expose these fake clinics.
To seek medical care from someone you can trust at a licensed family planning center:
WAWH Submits Comments Related to Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) submits these comments in response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (“HHS”, “Department”) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“proposed rule,” “NPRM”) to express our concerns with the proposed rule entitled “Nondiscrimination in Health and Health Education Programs or Activities,” published in the Federal Register on July 14, 2019.
WAWH is a Wisconsin-based non-profit that advocates on behalf of women and girls. Our vision is for every Wisconsin woman - at every age and every stage of life – to be able to reach her optimal health, safety and economic security. We are deeply concerned with the proposed rule that seeks to remove nondiscrimination protections that would have a direct effect on women and girls.
Section 1557 is the law; however, this proposed rule attempts to change the administrative
implementation in ways that are contrary to the plain language and intent of the law to protect against discrimination. The NPRM’s proposed changes could impose wide ranging harm, particularly falling hardest upon underserved populations, who already struggle to access health care.
We recognize that this proposed rule is just another way for the Trump-Pence Administration to reduce access for people seeking reproductive health care, including abortion, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, including immigrants, those living with disabilities, and people of color. People across our country need access to healthcare, and cruelly putting up hurdles and intentionally allowing room for increased discrimination takes healthcare in the wrong direction. The proposed rule is dangerous and contravenes the plain language of Section 1557, specifically, and the ACA broadly.
The ACA’s clear intent and its overriding purpose is to reduce and ultimately eliminate discrimination in health care. This proposed rule should not be used to narrow the scope of Section 1557 to allow for more discrimination. Such a change is illegal and morally abhorrent.
For the reasons detailed above, HHS and CMS should not finalize the proposed rule and should instead redirect their efforts to advancing health care access and equity for all.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments.
The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health
Sara Finger, Executive Director/Founder
Important Healthcare Investments Eliminated from Budget
Statement from Sara Finger, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH):
“GOP leaders approved a woefully insufficient budget and blocked healthcare investments we deserve and need. The Republican approved budget fails to fully expand Medicaid, and prevents our state from attracting $160 million a year in federal funds which could be invested in maternal and child health, mental health, and education.
“70% of Wisconsinites in a recent poll support Medicaid expansion, yet the vast majority of GOP legislators oppose it, and pushed through a budget that removed full expansion and left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table. This is what extreme gerrymandering looks like, and the will of the people will continue to be obstructed until Wisconsin solves our gerrymandering problem.
“Republicans leaders have once again played politics to score political points with their funders and base and have stripped our communities from the opportunities outlined by Governor Evers in his refreshing budget.
“State budgets are moral documents that offer a powerful reflection of our leaders’ collective priorities. We are grateful to Governor Evers for putting forth his positive policy vision for women’s wellbeing in his bold budget proposal. His budget priorities reflected the values and needs of Wisconsin women and families after eight long years of blatant disregard for the public’s health and economic security. We understand why the Governor is accepting this budget, but since healthcare polices needed by women in girls were largely cut out and he must work with us to find ways to support and move these policies forward.
“We remain committed to working the Evers Administration and champions in the Capitol to advance our shared policy vision outside of the budget process. Wisconsin women deserve to be heard and we won’t stop holding our leaders accountable for their failures to invest in our health, safety and economic security.”
Taken from materials from FamiliesUSA:
On July 9, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hear oral arguments in the case Texas v. United States. This case threatens access to health care and financial security for millions of Americans with 153,000 people estimated to lose coverage in Wisconsin.
The case before the Fifth Circuit is based on an appeal of the dangerous ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in December 2018 that would strike down the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA), including provisions that:
This case is an extremely overt form of health care sabotage. Millions of Americans rely on the ACA and if it hadn’t been for the ACA, many Americans would not be alive today.
While the case is under appeal, it is important that consumers and their advocates know that the ACA is still law of the land!
To learn more, link here. And stay tuned for more updates on this case.
Sara Finger, Executive Director