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Govenor Reaffirms Support for Reproductive Healthcare PDF Print E-mail
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Written by GOV Press Wisconsin   
Thursday, 25 January 2024 09:18

womens-healthGov. Evers announces efforts to expand access to oral contraception, postpartum coverage after pregnancy in SOS. BadgerCare Plus members may access over-the-counter contraception without copays.


MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers in his 2024 State of the State address Tuesday night announced he is directing the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to issue a standing order that will remove barriers for over-the-counter contraception, including emergency contraception, for BadgerCare Plus members.  

Last summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first daily, oral contraceptive pill for use without a prescription, which is expected to be available online and in stores later this year. BadgerCare Plus currently covers over-the-counter emergency contraception and daily contraception with a prescription from a provider. Once this contraception is available on shelves, with the governor’s action announced tonight, BadgerCare Plus members will be able to go to any pharmacy carrying it, and the pharmacist will use DHS’s standing order to serve as the prescription to cover over-the-counter contraception, including emergency contraception, allowing the patient to receive the medication with no out-of-pocket costs.

Relevant excerpts from Gov. Evers’ 2024 State of the State address are available below: 

“Every Wisconsinite should be able to access the healthcare they need when they need it. And, yes, that includes contraception.

evers-2023-sos-addr“Last summer, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first daily oral contraceptive pill for use without a prescription, which is expected to be available in stores and online later this year. And that’s great news. BadgerCare Plus currently covers over-the-counter emergency contraception and daily contraception with a prescription from a provider. Tonight, I’m announcing I’m directing the Department of Health Services to issue a standing order for BadgerCare Plus to serve as that prescription to cover over-the-counter contraception, including emergency contraception. 

“Here’s how it’ll work. Once this contraception is out on the shelves, an individual on BadgerCare Plus will be able to go to any pharmacy and pick up the contraception they need. The pharmacy will use DHS’ standing order to process their insurance coverage. That individual will be able to leave the pharmacy with the medication they need at no out-of-pocket cost.”


Gov. Evers Urges Legislature to Pass Bipartisan Bill to Expand Postpartum Coverage to 365 Days

Gov. Evers tonight also urged Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature to take action on Senate Bill (SB) 110 before the end of the legislative session. A bipartisan bill, SB 110 would direct DHS to seek approval from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand eligibility for postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months. This expansion of postpartum coverage is critical for preventing maternal deaths. A 2020 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, with some limited exceptions, approximately 30 percent of maternal deaths occur between 43 and 365 days after giving birth. A study conducted by DHS showed two-thirds of all pregnancy-related deaths in Wisconsin occur beyond the 60-day coverage window.  

Gov. Evers has included provisions that would expand postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months in each of his biennial budget proposals since being elected governor, but Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) have rejected it three times. In the 2021-23 budget, Republicans included a lesser expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 90 days. Wisconsin late last week received notice that had long been expected that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services does not plan to approve the state’s waiver request for a new demonstration testing a period of coverage shorter than the 365 days that CMS has made available to all states for postpartum coverage.

Relevant excerpts from Gov. Evers’ 2024 State of the State address are available below: 

“There’s also work we can do together to support healthy moms, babies, and families across Wisconsin, especially as we celebrate Maternal Health Awareness Day. Pregnant women in Wisconsin up to certain income levels are eligible for BadgerCare Plus for the term of their pregnancy and up to 60 days after they give birth. But, as most people know, recovery time from a pregnancy often lasts longer than 60 days.  

“Today, a bipartisan bill, Senate Bill 110, introduced by Senators Ballweg and Felzkowski, would enable Wisconsin to join 43 other states that already extend coverage to pregnant women for up to 365 days after they give birth. Tonight, I’m urging Republicans and Democrats to work together to get this bill across the finish line this session and to send it to my desk. We have to get this done.”


Gov. Evers believes that every Wisconsinite should have access to quality, affordable healthcare, including reproductive healthcare, and the governor has been a champion for expanding access to reproductive healthcare and defending reproductive freedom. 

Gov. Evers’ 2019-21 and 2021-23 budget proposals included investments in “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiatives aimed at improving women’s access to preventative care such as cancer screenings, health exams, and STI testing, supporting healthier pregnancies and births, and addressing racial disparities in maternal and child health. Gov. Evers’ 2023-25 budget proposal also invested more than $50 million to support his “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” initiative, investing more than $5.6 million for maternal and infant mortality prevention and expanding Medicaid benefits to cover doula services, including childbirth education and emotional and physical support provided during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. These initiatives in each budget also included the governor’s proposal to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months. 

Additionally, Gov. Evers’ 2019-21 and 2021-23 budget proposals included increasing funding for the Women’s Health Block Grant, granted to organizations that provide pregnancy testing, perinatal care coordination and follow-up, cervical cancer screening, sexually transmitted infection prevention, testing, treatment and follow-up, and general health screenings. Both the 2019-21 and 2021-23 budget proposals would have repealed the prohibition on Title V, Title X, and Women’s Health block grant funding provided to organizations that provide abortion services or an organization that has an affiliate that provides abortion services. Additionally, the proposals expanded the Title V and Title X definitions of family planning and family planning services to include the provision of nondirective information related to pregnancy termination. Unfortunately, these provisions were removed by the Republicans on the JFC in both 2019-21 and 2021-23 budget proposals. 

Gov. Evers’ 2019-21 budget proposal provided an increased level of funding for the Wisconsin Well Woman Program. This program provides preventative health screening services to low-income women aged 45 to 64, that include mammograms, pap tests, cervical cancer screening, multiple sclerosis testing, and more. Gov. Evers’ 2021-23 budget proposal included $10 million over the biennium for local public health departments (LPHDs), which provide communicable disease surveillance, prevention and control, services to prevent other diseases and hazards, and other services to promote public health. LPHDs are limited to several targeted programs, including the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, the reproductive health program, and more. Unfortunately, this funding was also removed from the budget by JFC.

 

Finally, Gov. Evers’ 2021-23 budget proposal provided an exemption from the general sales and use tax for sales of diapers, and the governor’s 2023-25 budget expanded this provision to make basic family needs, including diapers, incontinence products, menstrual products, tampons, and breast pumps exempt from sales tax. These provisions were not included in the final budget and were removed from the most recent budget by the JFC when they removed more than 540 provisions in a single budget motion.


Gov. Evers Reaffirms Fight to Protect Access to Reproductive Healthcare

Gov. Evers believes Wisconsinites should be able to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without interference from politicians who don’t know anything about their faith, family, or circumstances.

According to the Marquette University Law School Poll, for a decade now, 60 percent of Wisconsinites, on average, have consistently said they support safe, legal access to abortion in all or most cases. Gov. Evers and Democrats have been working to protect and defend reproductive freedom for Wisconsinites for the past five years, including in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey stripping millions of Wisconsinites and Americans of the reproductive rights they had relied upon for nearly five decades.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs threw reproductive freedom in Wisconsin into chaos due to confusion caused by an outdated 1849-era statute enacted before the Civil War and at a time when Wisconsin women did not have the right to vote. A recent court ruling in Gov. Evers’ litigation challenging the state’s outdated abortion statute determined the 1849-era law did not apply to medical abortions, enabling healthcare providers to resume providing abortion care in recent weeks.

Wisconsinites went for over a year without abortion care services, with few exceptions, even as Wisconsin Republicans rejected repeated efforts to repeal the 1849-era law and gaveled out of multiple special sessions called by Gov. Evers aiming to restore access to reproductive healthcare statewide.

Last month, after abortion care recently resumed in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans announced plans to launch a new effort to seek a 14-week abortion ban in 2024. Gov. Evers, who has spent five years fighting every Republican effort to limit access to reproductive healthcare, slammed the move in a video message to Wisconsinites. Legislative Republicans introduced this legislation, Assembly Bill 975, last week, and just days later on the 51st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, Republicans hosted a public hearing on the bill, during which the bill was criticized for having no exceptions for rape or incest.

Relevant excerpts from Gov. Evers’ 2024 State of the State address are available below:

“What has happened on the issue of reproductive freedom in Wisconsin over the last two years is another good example of why we need fair maps.

“For a decade now, 60% of Wisconsinites, on average, have consistently said they support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And yet, each time I’ve asked Republicans to restore Wisconsinites’ reproductive freedom to what it was the day before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, they said, ‘No.’ And because of that, Wisconsin women spent over a year experiencing firsthand what it’s like to live in a state that bans nearly all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.

“Today, thanks to the lawsuit Democrats filed days after the Supreme Court’s decision, Wisconsinites now have the same reproductive freedom in Wisconsin that they did on June 23, 2022, before Roe was overturned.

“But make no mistake: the freedoms Wisconsinites just got back are already under attack. Republicans are advancing a bill that would ask Wisconsinites to strip themselves of some of the basic reproductive freedoms that were just recently restored to them. It provides no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

“Folks, Wisconsinites have been abundantly clear. As another example, Republicans’ last candidate for governor wanted to take those same freedoms—and more—away. You’ll notice he’s not here delivering the State of the State address tonight.

“So, I want to speak directly to women in Wisconsin tonight: I will veto any bill that takes away your reproductive freedom or makes reproductive healthcare any less accessible in Wisconsin than it is today. Period.”

Last Updated on Friday, 26 January 2024 09:34
 
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