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Hispanic Health News

Latinas Nationwide Celebrate Launch of ACA Benefits, Including Contraception Without Co-pays

Today Latinas nationwide celebrate access to contraception without co-pays, as well as the launch of a series of additional provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aimed at protecting women’s health.

But even with these gains, millions of Latinas remain without access to life-saving care and contraception because undocumented immigrants are barred from benefits under the ACA. A recent New York Times article noted that this leaves 11 million immigrants without care, many of them Latinas, and places an incredible burden on our nation’s hospitals.

“Access to quality, affordable health care is a basic human right,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH). “The Affordable Care Act provides incredible gains for many Latinas, but our fight will continue until all Latinas can access quality care, including contraception and the ability to plan the timing and spacing of their families without expensive co-pays.”

On Monday, August 6, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health will launch its third annual Week of Action for Reproductive Justice. With the partnership of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ) and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), NLIRH will use its ongoing ¡Soy Poderosa! (I Am Powerful!) campaign to encourage Latinas across the country to demand that policymakers protect the Affordable Care Act and access to birth control, expand Medicaid and demand that all Latinas have access to quality, affordable health care.

“¡Soy Poderosa! is a rallying cry that puts the valuable work of Latinas at the forefront and shows policymakers that we will hold them accountable,” said González-Rojas. “Week of Action and ¡Soy Poderosa! remind legislators that Latinas are a powerful constituency that will not be silenced.”

The Week of Action campaign will include contributions to ¡Soy Poderosa! and letter-writing campaigns to governors across the country, calling for them to fully implement the Medicaid expansion. Activists will also collect stories from Latinas across the country to demonstrate the collective reach of Latinas when they stand together for health and reproductive justice.

This is a critical moment for Latina health. The Affordable Care Act has already:

  -Helped 736,000 young Latino/as retain coverage.
  -Eliminated discrimination by health insurers against children with pre-existing conditions.
  -Provided for cervical cancer screenings for sexually active women and STI screening.

Beginning today, Aug. 1, the ACA:

  -Provides contraception coverage without expensive co-pays so that Latinas can plan the timing and spacing of their families.
  -Expands access to life-saving preventive care, like HIV screenings, STI counseling and domestic violence counseling and screening.
  -Supports Latina mothers with breastfeeding supplies and comprehensive support and counseling by trained providers.

Still, opponents vow they’ll repeal these landmark gains for Latina health, and governors of states with millions of Latinas, including Texas and Florida, flatly refuse to expand Medicaid.

As part of the Week of Action, advocates will also participate in a Blog Carnival, contributing pieces to their blogs and Tumblrs about how they use their voices, take action in their communities and ensure their voice is poderosa.

“Latinas are showing our power today in the fight for health care access,” González-Rojas said. “It’s time for all Latinas to stand together and say, ‘My voice matters, and I deserve to be heard. Expand Medicaid and protect birth control!’ ”

The Blog Carnival aims to create an online conversation that will demonstrate how Latinas are actively engaged in shaping their families and communities and highlight the importance of health and reproductive justice for all Latinas.

Past Week of Action campaigns have focused on winning access to contraception without expensive co-pays, a gain that the Affordable Care Act has ensured for millions of Latinas, and a concerted pushback against the negative stereotypes about Latinas that dominate the media.

To become a partner in this nationwide week of action and learn more about the letter-writing campaign and other activities taking place around the country, please visit the Week of Action page on NLIRH’s website. Bloggers interested in contributing to the Blog Carnival should email miriam@latinainstitute.org with questions or links.