We’re finally getting more of the COVID-19 relief we need — and you helped get it over the finish line.
Congress has passed the American Rescue Plan Act: much-needed legislation that addresses the health care and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, including support for sexual and reproductive health care. The bill passed in the Senate 50-49, and in the House 220-211 — and on March 11, President Biden signed it into law.
This is a major win, and we want to say thank you.
A year ago, on March 11, 2020, a president sat in the Oval Office to deliver a sharply different speech on the coronavirus pandemic. His remarks sparked panic, spurring international travel into the United States that likely made a developing wave of COVID-19 cases worse. Those events heralded the year of largely needless hardship, suffering, and death in the United States that followed.
Since the dark early days of the pandemic, we’ve worked through unprecedented circumstances to protect reproductive freedom — and to protect our health and lives. Through Planned Parenthood Votes, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and local Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations, you contacted more than 5.5 million voters to get out the vote. Your efforts helped to elect new leaders with a new vision — and created a chance to retake full control of our bodies and our lives.
The American Rescue Plan Act — the fulfilment of promises by a president and vice president who listen to scientists and believe in facts — is the long-needed result and a fantastic step toward turning things around.
Here’s what the plan does:
The core of the law focuses on funding to address the health and economic crises brought on by COVID-19. This includes billions for vaccine distribution, planning, and monitoring, and direct financial relief to individuals and families.
The American Rescue Plan also provides $50 million in funding to the Title X Family Planning Program — which is the nation’s only program dedicated to affordable reproductive health care, like birth control. (If anyone — probably not you — wonders why sexual and reproductive health care need to be included in COVID-19 relief: it’s because it’s essential health care and we’re in a pandemic. Easy.)
The plan has incentives for states to expand Medicaid coverage. Medicaid is the BIGGEST payer for reproductive health care coverage in the country — helping people who have always faced systemic health barriers in our nation get the care they NEED, and further expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.
The American Rescue Plan reduces health care premiums for millions through health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Together, we spent the entire last year demanding more. This is a win we’ve all fought hard for. Thousands and thousands of your calls, emails, and texts demanding action have helped bring additional, needed relief to the communities that have suffered most. Voters who put reproductive rights champions in power in the White House and Congress helped guarantee that access to all health care — including sexual and reproductive health care — was a priority.
This $1.9 trillion relief package takes essential steps to help the communities hardest hit by this crisis. As you know, access to sexual and reproductive health has been inextricably tied to health and safety during the pandemic — especially for Black and Brown people, Latinos, and people with low incomes — who are disproportionately harmed by COVID-19 and who already face barriers to care due to centuries of systemic racism and oppression.
Some senators cynically tried to use this relief bill to restrict abortion coverage. But thanks to advocacy efforts and to the reproductive health champions that you elected, those discriminatory efforts were defeated. The American Rescue Plan Act did not expand restrictions on abortion coverage — which is a victory for our mission to ensure everyone has access to sexual and reproductive health care, no matter their income.
Make no mistake: this law is a huge step in the right direction. We’re so grateful that you joined us in the fight to demand more from our elected officials. The work continues — but take a moment to celebrate this incredible win.