Brenda Tracy: 2017 Visionary Voice Award Recipient

You could feel the jubilation around our office when we first learned that the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) had accepted our nomination of Brenda Tracy for the Visionary Voice Award.

Since coming forward publicly in 2014 as a survivor of a brutal gang-rape, Brenda has been a veritable force of nature. She has traveled to numerous universities across the country, sharing her story and inspiring an entire generation of student-athletes and their coaches to #SetTheExpectation against sexual violence. She has testified in favor of extending the criminal statute of limitations for sexual offenses, advocated for reducing the backlog of sexual assault forensic examination kits, and pushed colleges and universities to hold violent student-athletes accountable

Affirming the lives of trans women of color

In order to truly address the root causes and impacts of gender-based violence, we must commit to and practice centering the voices and experiences of those most impacted: trans women of color and all transgender people.

Healthcare in 2017: what you need to know

Many survivors of domestic and sexual violence are recipients of health care made possible by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, or sometimes known as “Obamacare”), which supports programs such as our Oregon Health Plan and Federally Qualified Health Centers, as well as other public funding programs that make possible health care for people in need.

However, even as the future is unclear, there are actions you can take right now to take charge of your health and help advocate for the survivors of domestic and sexual violence with whom you work.

Since November, people across the United States are signing up for health care through the exchanges at record rates.  No matter your income status or situation, open enrollment for health insurance runs through January 31, 2017. The coverage you sign up for today is a contract for your health care in 2017.

Whatever may happen, new health insurance rules will not effect this year.  Thus, it is still a good idea to enroll eligible survivors in the Oregon Health Plan or on the exchanges.  Key points for advocates and survivors remain in 2017:

  • Domestic violence is a health issue.  Thus, domestic violence screening and counseling are core preventive health services.

  • Although the deadline for many people is January 31, survivors of domestic violence are exempt from the restricted enrollment periods, and can sign up for the Oregon Health Plan at any time.  (More below.)

  • Survivors do not need to provide documentation of abuse or violence to qualify.  

  • Domestic violence is no longer a pre-existing condition for insurers.  

  • Survivors who are married to their abusive partner have the ability to sign up for their own insurance and claim the appropriate tax subsidy as long as they have separated (Learn more here).

  • In Oregon, thanks to OCADSV and partner advocacy in 2015, survivors who are receiving care under their abusive partner’s healthcare insurance policy (private health insurance such as Moda, PacificSource, Providence, etc.) may still access confidential services by submitting the Oregon Request for Confidential Communication form here: http://tinyurl.com/ORPatientPrivacy (Learn more here.)

  • With tax season upon us, and with 1 in 20 Oregonians still uninsured, we know that many people will need to pay a penalty for a lack of healthcare insurance in 2016.  Survivors of domestic violence qualify for a “hardship exemption” from this penalty.  (Learn more here.)

We recommend advocates take the time to work with a community partner to the Oregon Health Plan to assist in navigating enrollment issues for survivors of domestic violence.  Community partners include trained navigators who are staff members of organizations such as IRCO, Urban League, Outside In, NARA, and many other organizations across the state of Oregon.  You can find them online (by zip code, make sure to search for “Community Partner (P)”) here: http://healthcare.oregon.gov/Pages/get-help.aspx . Contact Sarah Keefe at OCADSV if you have further questions about this process.

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