Action Alert: Tell Senators Toomey & Casey You Oppose Trumpcare (BCRA)

After weeks of secret deal-making among a handful of Republican Senators, the Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), technically called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), was finally released. Bottom line: It is a tax cut for the wealthy at the expense of the lives of vulnerable Americans.

Like the House version, the Senate Trumpcare bill will devastate millions of Americans by:

  • Gutting Medicaid
  • Allowing states to strip out consumer protections currently required under the Affordable Care Act, such as maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment
  • Block Planned Parenthood from receiving reimbursement for providing preventative healthcare services

It’s ironic that the party currently using the slogan “Make America Great Again” plan to destroy Medicaid, a program that was initially established to shore up national security after it was discovered that half of all applicants for the armed forces in 1962 were rejected for military service due to poor health. The 1964 report, “One Third of a Nation: A Report on Young Men Found Unqualified for Military Service,” concluded that the widespread poor health of the nation’s 18-year-old men was attributed to “inadequate education and insufficient health services.”

Today, millions of Americans rely on Medicaid to meet their healthcare needs.

Facts about Medicaid and Who Relies on it in Pennsylvania:

  • Nearly two-thirds of all Medicaid spending is for senior citizens and people with disabilities.
  • Six in 10 nursing home residents are covered by Medicaid.
  • Medicaid coverage contributes to a decline in maternal and infant mortality.
  • Medicaid bolsters the private insurance industry by keeping costs down. Since Medicaid covers people with serious illnesses and disabilities, it effectively functions as a high-risk pool for the private insurance industry. Also, Medicaid supplements private insurance coverage for people with disabilities.
  • Medicaid supplements Medicare. One in five Medicare beneficiaries are “dual eligibles” who rely on Medicaid to supplement Medicare by contributing to out-of-pocket costs, and relying on Medicaid for dental and vision care and coverage.
  • Expansions of Medicaid for pregnant women and children have led to improved birth outcomes and child health.
  • In Pennsylvania, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide health and long-term care coverage to more than 2.9 million low-income children, pregnant women, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities in Pennsylvania.
  • Two in five children in Pennsylvania are covered by Medicaid, 3 in 5 nursing home residents, and 1 in 2 people with disabilities.
  • Under Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion in 2014, 702, 800 adults were added to Medicaid, including 82,000 veterans.

TAKE ACTION: CONTACT PENNSYLVANIA’S U.S. SENATORS:

Senator Bob Casey has said he is opposed to this bill. Senator Pat Toomey was one of the handful of Senators who designed it.

Contact Pennsylvania Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey and urge them to protect our care. Click here to send them an email.

You can also contact them other ways, too:

  • Senator Pat Toomey is on Facebook and twitter. Toomey’s phone number is (202) 224-4254.
  • Senator Bob Casey is on Facebook and twitter. Casey’s phone number is (202)-224-6324.

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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Media Advisory: “Pennsylvania Community Conversations on Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Women’s Health” Kicks Off in Erie, PA

Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health Launches Statewide Series of Public Conversations about Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Women’s Health

Pennsylvania – A statewide series of public conversations about a broad range of women’s health issues kicks off this week with an inaugural event in Erie.

Community Conversations on Pregnancy, Parenthood, and Women’s Health is a direct response to several factors that, combined, spell disaster for Pennsylvania families: Pennsylvania’s abysmal track record on key indicators of women’s health; a state Legislature obsessed with restricting access to reproductive healthcare while actively neglecting policy proposals that would improve women’s health and economic security; the Legislature’s refusal to hear testimony from constituents on issues that directly affect their health and lives; and, a regressive federal agenda fixated on restricting access to affordable healthcare.

The Community Conversation – Erie will take place Thursday, June 15 at 6:30PM at the Keystone Progress Erie office at the Radius Co-work Classroom in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Healthcare Access is the primary theme of the Erie event, which will be co-hosted by Keystone Progress Education Fund and Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. Register to attend here.

Additional Conversations will follow, each with a main theme reflecting the foremost concerns of the community, at locations all over the state including Millvale (Allegheny County), Carlisle (Cumberland County), and Centre County.

The Community Conversations are an initiative of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health. Founded in 2013, the PA Campaign for Health is a collaboration of more than 55 local, state and national organizations calling for evidence-based policies to support and protect equal access to affordable reproductive healthcare including abortion, personal safety, and workplace equality. Specifically, the Campaign supports legislation to address pregnancy discrimination, close gaps in the state’s equal pay law, provide workplace accommodations for nursing workers, protect patients and doctors from harassment, and prohibit legislatively coercing doctors to lie to patients.

At the Community Conversations, locals will share their experiences, and the challenges they face trying to lead healthy lives and deciding if, when, and how to raise a family in Pennsylvania.

Local lawmakers and media are invited to attend in person to listen and learn, or follow along online at @KeystoneProgres and @PPWPA and #PA4WomensHealth #Erie.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, like us at www.facebook.com/PA4WomensHealth and www.pa4womenshealth.prg.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Tara Murtha of the Women’s Law Project at tmurtha@womenslawproject.org or 215-928-5762, or Dan Doubet of Keystone Progress at dan@keystoneprogress.org or 646-675-5939.

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The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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“I Admit, It’s a Strange Time to Accept an Award for Progress.”

WLP Executive Director Carol E. Tracy is the 2017 Honoree of the Sandra Day O’Connor Award. The Philadelphia Bar Association annually presents the Sandra Day O’Connor Award to a female attorney who has demonstrated superior legal talent, achieved significant legal accomplishments, and has furthered the advancement of women in both the profession and the community.

Below is Carol’s acceptance speech.

Honored guests, Thank you.  I am indeed honored by the Sandra O’Connor Award, and I pay special tribute to the Women in the Profession committee who support the work of public interest lawyers.

Carol E. Tracy is the recipient of the 2017 Sandra Day O’Connor Award

If I have any talent, it is in hiring and supporting a dedicated and incredibly talented staff; I am also pretty good at attracting amazing board members, and have the luck of the Irish in having such great friends, inspiring colleagues, and most important being part of such a wonderful family, a family that had the good sense to expand the Irish gene pool to be inclusive of other Europeans, Asians and African Americans. Too all of you, I say thank you and know that I am standing on your shoulders as I receive this award.

The Women’s Law Project is about community: of public interest colleagues who collaborate instead of compete, of law firm partners that support and co-counsel with us, foundations that believe in our mission and fund us, and foremost, our clients who have had the courage to stand up for equality and justice.

I am a boomer. I had the great fortune of becoming conscious of the great need for equality and justice at the same time the country at large bloomed into this awareness. The mid-60s to mid-70s were years marked by unprecedented legal and cultural advancements for women.

In 1963, JFK signed the Equal Pay Act. The following year, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination in employment, passed into law.  The Voting Rights Act of 1965 finally enfranchised African Americans. The same year, the Supreme Court issued a ruling decriminalizing the distribution of birth control, and “the pill,” was put on the market, a tiny seed that planted a revolution by separating sex from reproduction for women. Title IX was enacted in 1972, and women poured into professional schools and onto athletic fields, free to achieve goals of our own.

And then in 1973, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.

The following year, when the Women’s Law Project opened our doors, we were riding atop a wave of momentum and optimism. It felt like women could one day be free. And by women, I mean all women. And by free, I mean equal.

Then, almost immediately, we were met with formidable backlash.

And so we have seen these cycles ever since: legal advancements toward equality, and then the heavy hands of discrimination and entitlement trying to push us back.

We are seeing that very clearly now–though they are, in this case, tiny hands.

Despite opposition, we have stood our ground and forged legal victories and public policy reforms. I am proud of the range and depth of our accomplishments: from our early work stopping “illegitimate” from being stamped on birth certificates, to securing credit for married women, to preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to battered women, to restoring millions in child support to families, to securing the legal relationship between children and their LGBT parents, to assuring athletic opportunities for girls, to demanding that pregnant addicted women be treated rather than arrested, to being the catalyst for a new Family Courthouse in Philadelphia, to leading reform efforts to improve Philadelphia’s criminal justice system response to rape and domestic violence, and most importantly, to keeping  abortion safe and legal.

I admit, it is a strange time to accept an award for progress.

It is safe to say that the legislative victories of yesteryear would not pass in today’s Congress or in most state houses. We are not only in a cycle of regression, it is the worst we’ve ever seen.

Indeed we are dealing with dark and foreboding days for women’s reproductive freedom, for the human rights of people of color, ethnic minorities and immigrants, not to mention the potential loss of basic health care for millions and harm to the environment.

Some say our very democracy is threatened by the current administration. I say it is more alive and robust than it has been in decades. In January, I had the honor of speaking to 50,000 people at the Women’s March on Philadelphia, one of 600 marches taking place around the world.

It was one of the most exciting moments of my career. It was a moment of clarity. Women are leading the resistance, because we know what it was like and, as they saying goes, we won’t go back.

They say all politics is local. My work, and the work of the Women’s Law Project, has deep roots in Philadelphia, and in Pennsylvania. We have always understood we need to be on the ground, working in communities where we live—a strategy that is key to the resistance we see now, in huddles, Indivisible groups, and living rooms, which is where it all started in my day, with the consciousness-raising feminist groups sharing experiences and realizing our problems were not simply anecdotes, but rather symptoms of a much larger, complex problem of systemic inequality.

Today, Philadelphia is a city with more protections than most. We are a sanctuary city. We protect pregnant workers and support breastfeeding mothers in the workplace, though federal and state laws leave them behind. We have a police department that opens their doors and case files to feminist lawyers and other advocates, a process the Canadian Minister of Justice recently called “the gold standard” of police accountability in sex crime investigations.

Philadelphia is standing as a bulwark against the regressive agenda of the federal administration. I am proud to be a Philadelphia lawyer, with all of you as my colleagues.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone.” I know that I don’t.

I also know that our quest for equality and justice will not only survive, but will thrive.  Our daughters and sons, nieces and nephews are depending on us.  I am proud of the work we have all accomplished together, and look forward to what lies ahead.

Thank you for this great honor.

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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Press release: Lock Haven Athletes Sue For Athletic Equity and Seek to Stop Immediate Harm to Women’s Sports

 

 

For Immediate Release

 

Contact: Tara Murtha                                  Kathleen Yurchak

Women’s Law Project                                   Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak

tmurtha@womenslawproject.org              yurchak@centrelaw.com

215.928.5762                                                  814.237.4100

 

 

LOCK HAVEN ATHLETES SUE FOR ATHLETIC EQUITY AND SEEK TO STOP IMMEDIATE HARM TO WOMEN’S SPORTS

 

Philadelphia, PA (June 5, 2017) – Eight Lock Haven University female student-athletes have filed a class action lawsuit challenging the university’s failure to provide equitable athletic opportunities and benefits for female students. Plaintiffs also seek immediate relief to prevent Lock Haven from implementing announced changes to the women’s swim and field hockey programs that would irreparably harm the teams.

The case, Emily Robb et al v. Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, was filed to the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

The student-athletes, represented by the Women’s Law Project and Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak, brought the lawsuit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs, and specifically applies to athletic programs. Title IX requires equity in athletic participation opportunities, scholarships, and treatment.

Instead of closing its decades-long gender gaps in athletic participation and treatment, Lock Haven earlier this year targeted its women’s swim team for elimination and its women’s Division I field hockey team for demotion to Division II by the end of the year. Although it revised its plan in March, “the revised plan continues to discriminate against women and will achieve the same goals as the original plan through other means,” said attorney Kathleen Yurchak of Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak.

Having already driven swim recruits away, Lock Haven’s revised plan included firing the head swim coach, delaying his replacement, and reducing coaching and competing opportunities for the swim team. With swimmers transferring to other schools and no one recruiting more swimmers, the team will soon be weakened if not eliminated altogether, at a time when Lock Haven is already failing to provide equal athletic opportunities to its students.

Lock Haven’s revised plan delays the field hockey’s demotion for one year, but requires the team to raise its own funding without any guarantee of preventing demotion. Demotion of Lock Haven’s only women’s Division I team but not the only men’s Division I team (wrestling) violates Title IX’s equal level of competition requirement. It will drive away players and competitors who want a Division I competitive experience. If Lock Haven is not stopped from demoting the team pending final court order on the merits, the team will be diminished and is unlikely to be able to return to Division I status under NCAA rules.

“As Lock Haven’s different treatment of its women’s teams so clearly shows, Lock Haven treats its female athletes like second-class citizens. The law does not permit that,” said attorney Terry Fromson of the Women’s Law Project.

Lock Haven’s recent actions exacerbate its long history of discrimination against its women students. Forty-five years after the adoption of Title IX, Title IX compliance is long past due.

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The Women’s Law Project (WLP) is a public interest law center with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The WLP’s mission is to create a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of women throughout their lives.

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Why We Need Increased LGBTQ Protections in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission recently sought input on a proposed guidance that would set forth legal protections for people who are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Women’s Law Project submitted remarks strongly supporting this guidance, which states the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission would “take and investigate sex stereotyping claims filed by LGBTQ individuals.”

Read the letter WLP Senior Staff Attorney Sue Frietsche sent to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission here.

This guidance is necessary because of the lack of statutory protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians under the state’s Human Relations Act and the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act. Attempts to amend the Human Relations Act have repeatedly failed to pass into law. (Rep. Dan Frankel recently re-introduced the legislation, now known as House Bill 1410.)

The proposed measure is also especially necessary in light of the series of recent attacks on the rights of LGBTQ Americans by the Trump administration.

Here are just some of the ways Trump administration has already failed to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans:

 

  • In January, human rights advocates noticed that the Trump Administration “appear[ed] to be systematically scrubbing the progress made for LGBTQ people from official websites.”
  • In March, Trump signed an Executive Order rescinding the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which addressed employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation among federal contractors.
  • The Trump Administration rescinded a federal guidance clarifying Title IX protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, among other protections.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development revoked a rule ensuring that transgender people, who experience violence and homelessness more than the non-transgender population, can stay at sex-segregated shelters of their choice.
  • The Trump Administration erased the LGBTQ community from The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, key surveys that are used to help provide care to American seniors including disability, transportation, and caregiver support needs.
  • The U.S. Census was expected to include LGBTQ Americans in 2020 at the urging of federal agencies, because population data would help enforce anti-discrimination laws. Now, those categories have been deleted, a move GLAAD’s CEO called a “systematic effort on behalf of the Trump administration to erase LGBT people.”
  • Most recently, U.S. Secretary of Education admitted she would allow schools that receive federal funding to discriminate against, and even reject admissions of, LGBTQ students.
  • The Trump budget cuts $59 million from the Ryan White HIV/Aids program, which includes the entirety of the AIDS education program
  • The Trump budget cuts $186 million from the CDC’s “HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STIs and TB Prevention” programs.

We must resist these attacks on behalf of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians, while also supporting House Bill 1410.

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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Calgary Police Latest to Adopt the “Philadelphia Case Review Model” for Reviewing Unfounded Rape Cases

We’ve been traveling lately.

In just the last few weeks, WLP attorneys have been to cities across the United States and Canada conducting trainings to help advocates and police replicate our annual review of “unfounded” sex crime files at the Philadelphia Police Department, a best practice sometimes referred to as the “Philadelphia Case Review Model.”

Soon, we’ll share more details about this work and how our project in Philadelphia, originally developed out of scandal, is rapidly spreading as police and advocates look for innovative ways to improve police response to sexual assault.

Last week, the Calgary Police Service became the latest city to announce they are adopting the model. They will have five outside agencies review sexual assault cases that police officers have deemed to be unfounded.

WLP Executive Director recently spoke with CBC News about our work with fellow advocates in Philadelphia, and the challenges of addressing and eliminating gender bias in rape investigations.

From the article:

Tracy described the review model as a relatively simple process.

“A group of us from four agencies sit around a table. We review all unfounded rape cases and we also look at a cross section of open cases,” she said.

The group is looking to see if the cases have been properly and thoroughly investigated.

“The most important thing we then look for is their gender bias. Are interviews really interrogations? Are unnecessary questions — irrelevant questions — being asked, like what were you wearing? Why were you wearing that? Why were you out by yourself? Questions like that,” Tracy said.

Read the full article here.

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

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Advocates Declare May 23 “Unequal Pay Day” in Philadelphia

 

 

PHILADELPHIA –Last year, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed Bill No. 160840, a “prior pay” wage equity ordinance that prohibits employers from asking applicants to reveal their prior pay during job and salary discussions, or rely on wage history, when determining wages for a prospective new employee. In January, Philadelphia Mayor Kenney signed the bill into law, which was scheduled to go into effect on May 23, 2017.

May 23 is the day Philadelphia’s prior pay ordinance was scheduled to take effect.

However, it will not take effect on May 23 due to efforts to block the ordinance. Last month, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block it.

Advocates and Councilmembers, including the Women’s Law Project, Philadelphia National Organization for Women, the Philadelphia Commission for Women, Councilman Bill Greenlee and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown will speak out in support of the City, City Council, and the ordinance.

 

The press conference will take place on May 23, at 10AM, at Philadelphia City Hall, on the Fourth Floor (corridor).

“We know that basing a job’s pay on a prior wage, rather than the job’s responsibilities and the applicants’ qualifications, perpetuates discrimination throughout a woman’s career,” says Amal Bass, staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project. “Typically, the gender wage gap is present early in a woman’s career, then widens throughout her life.”

The gender pay gap is much wider for women of color than white women, making it even more crucial that Philadelphia addresses pay discrimination for all workers. “Instead of celebrating, we will speak up as a reminder of what this bill would mean to women, minorities, young people and families,” says Jovida Hill, Executive Director of Philadelphia Commission for Women.

 

Speakers include:

Amal Bass, Staff Attorney, Women’s Law Project

Jeni Wright, a Philadelphia worker

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown

Jovida Hill, Executive Director, Philadelphia Commission for Women

Renee Byer, Philadelphia worker

Melissa Robbins, NOW

Ben Waxman, Executive Director, Wage Change

Councilman Bill Greenlee

 

To request more information or an interview, contact Tara Murtha at tmurtha@womenslawproject.org.

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The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

We are a non-profit organization. Please consider supporting equal rights for women and girls by making a one-time donation or scheduling a monthly contribution.

 

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