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This week at CBPP we focused on family income support, state budgets and taxes, health care, food assistance, and Social Security.
On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the 19th amendment of the United States Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. Thanks to Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug, this landmark moment, and women’s continuous achievements and challenges on the path toward equality under the law are commemorated every August 26 on Women’s Equality Day.
As a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, a historic liberal arts college for women, I have a deep appreciation for women’s history. Therefore, it is with great enthusiasm that I share some background information on Women’s Equality Day and highlight resources from the Library of Congress collection related to the women’s suffrage movement.
In 1971, Congresswoman Abzug introduced H.J. Res 808 to designate August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. Although this joint resolution did not pass, in 1973 Congresswoman Abzug again introduced a bill for Women’s Equality Day. On August 16, 1973, the 93rd Congress passed H.J. Res. 52, which became Pub. L. 93-105. Every president since Richard Nixon has issued a proclamation designating August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. Nixon stated in his proclamation that he “firmly believed that women should not be denied equal protection of the laws of this Nation,” affirming his support for the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. President Obama addressed the continued struggle of women to earn equal pay for equal work and the importance of women having access to affordable health care, and protections against domestic and sexual violence in his 2015 proclamation.
The Law Library of Congress and the greater Library of Congress have some wonderful resources dedicated to women’s history and the women’s suffrage movement. For example, you can read about the history of women’s rights worldwide in the In Custodia Legis blog post, Women in History: Voting Rights and our Women’s History Month commemorative page, which links to the public laws and proclamations that designate March as Women’s History Month.
The Library of Congress also has fantastic images of the women who championed women’s voting rights in its collection, The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage. Additionally, the Library of Congress has over 500 images that document the work of the National Woman’s Party in the collection, Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party.
We invite you to view these resources today as we commemorate Women’s Equality Day!
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As prescription drug costs continue to rise, ensuring that consumers have access to the drugs they need is a growing concern. Insurers blame the drug companies for high prices while drug companies blame insurers for restrictive plans. Consumers are stuck in the middle picking up a higher tab. Now a new study highlights strategies for states to help consumers in this tug of war.
The report, by a group of patient and consumer advocates who are representatives to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), is being released today and will be presented this weekend at the summer meeting of the NAIC.
“States are moving ahead,” said Katie Keith, an attorney who works with the NAIC and helped write the report. “There are best practices out there and states are making changes.”
The report describes steps states can take to address a number of drug-coverage issues in the commercial insurance market, including:
- Limiting the number of cost-sharing tiers that insurers can use in a plan. Standardized plans in Massachusetts, New York and Vermont that are offered on the health law’s insurance marketplace are limited to three tiers.
- Limiting consumer out-of-pocket spending by, for instance, prohibiting plans from charging coinsurance, which is a percentage of the cost of a drug, instead of using flat dollar copayments. In Montana, for example, insurers have to offer at least one marketplace plan at the silver level or higher that charges only copayments in all drug tiers.
- Prohibiting plans from changing their formulary, or list of covered drugs, midway through the year. Texas and Nevada have prohibited most formulary changes, while other states have limited changes and some required insurers to notify consumers when changes are made.
The scope of the strategies vary. Some apply to the individual and small group markets only, others affect large group plans that are fully insured.
“States have long played this role, trying to make policies that work for consumers,” said Keith.
“It’s more urgent now with all the crazy drug prices we’re seeing.”
The NAIC develops model laws and regulations on various subjects that states can use as templates for their own rule-making. This report is intended to inform NAIC members as they move to revise the existing model law, the Health Carrier Prescription Drug Benefit Management Model Act, which was last updated in 2003, Keith said.
Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.