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ACA & Women

Health Equity Can’t Wait: Supporting a Health Equity Agenda in Wisconsin

This post is part of the Health Equity Can’t Wait, Act now in your CommUNITY blog carnival launched by the Health Equity and Accountability Act Working Group; you can see all posts on the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) website by linking, here.

Recognizing the disparities in health care services and access in Wisconsin women, which are even greater for women of color, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) has been engaging the community in health care equity for women through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The WAWH has done so through their Raising Wisconsin Women’s Voices health care reform blog, which highlights important provisions of health care reform that Wisconsin women need. The blog is mean to be a resource for our followers to go to learn about provisions and what it means for them and their family.

Along with our blog we have been vocal to our policymakers and to the media about the importance of meaningful health care reform implementation in our state. Unfortunately, in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has halted any implementation of the ACA and at the same time is making health care access through the state’s Medicaid programs, like BadgerCare, less attainable for Wisconsinites.

While our agenda for attaining health equity through the ACA was once to assist our policymakers in making this legislation the most meaningful it can be in Wisconsin, the Governor’s halt on any forth moving legislation to do so has shifted our attention to using a different method: Raising Wisconsin Women’s Voices!

Women, when they are appropriately and truthfully educated on the implications of this landmark health law are more likely to support it. WAWH has used this finding to make women aware about how their lives will be impacted – for the better – with the ACA. We have done so by hosting webinars to give women a “101” explanation of the ACA as well as the Health Care Exchanges. Last month, we launched and completed a statewide tour to “Educate and Celebrate: How Wisconsin Women Win with Health Care Reform.”

Also last month, WAWH Executive Director was recognized for her efforts by the White House as a White House Champion of Change. The award was meant to highlight individuals who have championed health care access throughout their career and that have done work to educate their community on the benefits of the ACA.

Women are most likely to be the health care coordinators in their family, and are also the least likely to have health care access through an employer. This disparity increases for women of a different ethnic or racial background than white women. Women are prone to health care practices such as “gender rating” where they are charged more than men for the same plan. Further, in 2009, 87% of health plans did not offer maternity care. This is especially important for health equity in Wisconsin, as black babies are three times more likely to die before their first birthday than white babies – oftentimes as a result of low birth weight, preterm birth, or both – which are adverse birth outcomes that increase without adequate maternity care.

Healthy women contribute to health families and communities, and health care access is important for all women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Health care access is an important factor in attaining health care equity, and WAWH will continue to mobilize individuals and organizations in supporting the ACA to achieve this goal.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for day two’s post for the Health Equity Can’t Wait blog carnival.

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