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 As you read this, these numbers are already outdated, because with each passing day, they rise.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.
Legislature Prioritizes Politics over People
MADISON - Statement from Sara Finger, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH):
“When Governor Evers released his budget early this year I felt so hopeful that our state would invest in the needs of real people. From doula reimbursement to infant mortality prevention to affordable child care, Evers’ budget included investments to tackle tough issues that had been long neglected. Governor Evers’ budget plan included a full expansion of Medicaid to cover 82,000 more Wisconsinites while saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in program like the Healthy Women Healthy Babies initiative.
“Yet, our Republican-led legislature just threw Evers’ budget and vision for healthier Wisconsin women out the window. Rather, they enthusiastically voted to replace it with a watered down version that spends more state money, helps fewer people, and leaves more than $1 billion in federal funds on the table. From a fiscal stance, this make zero sense; from a moral position this is a repugnant.
“Governor Evers listened to the people of Wisconsin and crafted a budget to reflect our needs and values. Republicans have drawn a line and have refused to invest in our health, our lives, and our economic security.
Shame on Republicans legislators for denying women and families a budget we need and deserve and for playing politics with our health and our lives.”
Statement from Sara Finger, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH):
“We are so proud to have Governor Evers standing strong with us, fighting for women’s access to abortion care at a time when we see governors across our nation slamming that door shut. Abortion care is about respecting women to make their own healthcare choices, not erecting onerous hurdles for them to make decisions about their own bodies. We are grateful that Governor Evers recognizes this fundamental right and trusts women.
Wisconsinites across our state are fed up with and appalled at how women’s health is being used as a political game piece. It is a grave and blatant display of misogyny that a body of mainly white male legislators believe they are entitled to dictate a women’s personal healthcare decisions to score political points.
Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health strongly supports the right of all women to make their own health decisions. We will continue to work to ensure access to healthcare, including abortion, and access to medically accurate information for all who need it. We will continue to track votes and ensure legislators are held accountable by their constituents.”
During this extremely busy week in Wisconsin, it was easy to blink and miss something big that happened in the healthcare and abortion access policy world. Here’s a recap of this week’s moving pieces.
On Tuesday morning (6/4) WAWH proudly stood with legislative champions and advocates to support Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-78), Sen. Fred Risser (D-26) and Sen. Latonya Johnson’s (D-6) introduction of the Abortion Access Protection Act. This proposed legislation repeals Wisconsin’s 1849 laws that make performing an abortion a felony criminal offense. Unless we repeal this archaic language, the only thing in between Wisconsin and an abortion ban is Roe v. Wade. With the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh, Roe v. Wade is under serious attack.
We need to repeal Wisconsin’s abortion ban and ensure women are able to control their bodies and their healthcare decisions.
Late Tuesday, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) removed Medicaid expansion from the state budget. They voted against against accepting $1.6 billion in federal funding for additional healthcare investments which is needed to fund crucial programs. Under Governor Evers’ plan, Wisconsin taxpayers would save $324.5 million over the biennium and expand Medicaid eligibility to an additional 82,000 people.
JFC Republican’s actions also made deep cuts to funding for Wisconsin’s communities of color. The funding for doula reimbursement, included in Evers’ Healthy Women Healthy Babies initiative, was removed as well as funding that would have expanded postpartum eligibility services from 60 days post birth to one year. This removal of funding is indefensible; Wisconsin has some of the worst health disparities in the nation and the highest black infant mortality rates in the nation.
The very next day the Senate took up and passed along party lines a batch of bad anti-abortion bills, several not even based on reliable scientific evidence, that restrict access to abortions and impede a woman’s ability to consult with her physician and make the best decision for her and her family. What is particularly repugnant about the passage of these bills is that they were purely politically motivated. The timing on Wednesday was strategic, and meant to distract from and absorb the pushback from JFC Republicans removing Medicaid expansion and funding for crucial programming included in Governor Evers’ budget.
Even those of us that work on health policy work professionally are struggling to keep up with all the moving pieces, and this is absolutely intentional.
Please take a moment to contact your legislators to let them know that you support Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin, access for abortion and funding for the Healthy Women and Healthy Babies initiative. If your legislator is supportive take another moment to thank them and let them know you are there to support them.
We are so proud of the legislators that are in the Capitol working tirelessly to make Wisconsin a better place for women and families. We are all in this together so let’s keep our focus and remember to breathe!
The state legislature, however, never removed the 1849 law from its criminal code. With Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s recent appointment to the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is under serious threat of being overturned and without its protection, doctors could face felony charges under this law for performing abortions in Wisconsin.
We applaud Rep. Subeck and Sen. Risser for introducing a bill that would repeal the Wisconsin abortion ban. We urge our legislators to support this bill and immediately take action to repeal this ban and ensure all women are able to control their bodies and their healthcare decisions. The threat to Roe v. Wade is very real and thus the threat to Wisconsin women’s access to abortion is on the line. The time to take action and make sure abortion care is available in our communities, is right now.
Cecely Castillo, Policy Director