August 23, 2023
This summer, AWHP was busy at work fighting to ensure equitable access to affordable prescription medications for people with chronic illnesses, maintaining funding for women’s healthcare programs, encouraging access to early cancer detection, and improving the issue of Black maternal health. As part of these efforts, our CEO, Millicent Gorham, attended the National Medical Association’s 121st Annual Convention in New Orleans, where she spoke with the nation’s leading Black doctors about health equity and the urgent need for preventive healthcare access for all. Read on to learn more about the actions AWHP has taken this summer.
Urging Lawmakers to Reject the Defunding, Elimination of Key Women’s Healthcare Programs
AWHP sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee detailing our concerns about elements of the 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill that bring deep cuts to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In our letter, AWHP called for a funding bill that prioritizes the healthcare needs of women and girls. We also urged House lawmakers to reject these cuts that could weaken our ability to drive cutting-edge biomedical research and could leave our nation’s most vulnerable populations sick and disempowered. Further, we have called for an appropriations bill that restores the funding of critical agencies to current spending funding levels, including preserving the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Read our full letter here.
Showing Support for Three Vital Issues – Prescription Affordability, Black Maternal Health, and Early Cancer Detection
AWHP was proud to sign on to a letter led by the All Copays Count Coalition (ACCC) urging Congress to include the Help Ensure Lower Patient Copays Act (HELP Copays Act) in any Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) reform package that comes to a vote this year. This bill will eliminate barriers to treatment for some of the most vulnerable Americans—those who live with serious, complex chronic illness—ensuring that they can afford the necessary and often life-saving medications prescribed by their providers.
You can read the full letter here.
AWHP also showcased our encouragement for the passage of two Acts by developing statements of support and sharing them with the offices of their sponsoring Representatives. The first was the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act (H.R.3305), which includes 13 individual bills that look to remedy the issue of Black maternal health through investment in social determinants of health, expanding WIC eligibility, support for maternal mental health, promotion of maternal vaccines, and more. Given its potential impact on the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of countless women and girls, AWHP strongly supports the passage of the Act.
The second was the Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act (H.R.2407), which would allow for Medicare coverage and payment for multi-cancer early detection screening tests that are FDA approved and that are used to screen for cancer across many cancer types, if the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) determines such coverage is appropriate. AWHP strongly supports the passage of this Act because of its potential impact in detecting cancer early and thus protecting women’s health.
All of these issues tie back to AWHP’s mission of advancing policies that provide early and equitable access to screening and diagnosis, vaccines, and other preventive treatments to improve the health of all women.
Engaging at the National Medical Association’s (NMA) Annual Convention
AWHP’s CEO Millicent Gorham attended NMA’s 121st Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly in New Orleans from July 29 through August 2. While there, she spoke with the newly named president of the organization about the relevance of the historic medical organization and the healthcare climate for people of color.
“The NMA was founded in 1895. There is no one else who’s been working on health equity since 1895. When George Floyd died, we saw a resurgence in health equity initiatives. But when you talk about consistency, we have never wavered,” said Dr. Yolanda Lawson, MD, FACOG, National Medical Association President and Founder of MadeWell OBGYN.
“All around this convention, the topic is the same — disparities. NMA is the anchor. Our relevance lies in our ability to push, advocate and continue the fight against healthcare disparities.”