Policy & Advocacy


The people you elect as your state, local and federal government officials have the power to pass policies, regulations and laws that can help — or harm — your health.

That’s why our policy and advocacy team serves as your voice – evaluates and develops national and state policies to hold elected officials accountable for addressing issues most critical to Black women’s health, especially regarding: breast and cervical cancers, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, intimate partner violence and sexual assault, maternal health and reproductive health.

We are also leading the effort to create the first National Health Policy Agenda for Black women.

BWHI Policy Priorities:

  1. Access to quality, affordable, and innovative approaches to provide comprehensive health care for Black women and girls.
  2. Equitable and adequate response for public health emergencies.
  3. Sufficient diversity in clinical research.
  4. Sustained financial support for HBCUs.


Here are 6 ways you can advocate for your health:

  • Speak to your employer about health care services to cover in insurance plans
  • Talk about health care issues you care about on social media
  • Tell your story! Have you overcome a health challenge or want politicians and others to know how an illness have impacted you or your family, let us know. We’d love to share your story.


Health care coverage:

  • Policies to repeal the ACA will result in Black women losing access to affordable, quality maternity care, preventative services, and other essential health benefits. These policies could result in more Black women dying or suffering from avoidable diseases and conditions, going without necessary health care, or incurring significant medical debt.

Maternal Health

  • Policies to improve the maternal health outcomes experienced by Black women. Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications and 3-4 times more likely to suffer from severe disability resulting from childbirth compared to White women. These policies will improve the preconception health of Black women, as well as prevent the avoidable deaths of thousands of pregnant Black women.


Breast Cancer
New York State and Texas private insurers must cover 3-D mammograms with no out-of-pocket costs (regulation, A. 5677, HB 1036).

  • New York State regulation: (February 2017) Insurers must cover medically necessary 3-D mammograms without co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles.
  • • Nationally, 6,063 Black women died from breast cancer in 2013. Black women have a 43% higher breast cancer death rate, are diagnosed at a much later stage, have a higher incidence of more aggressive breast cancers, and lower breast cancer survival rates.
  • Black women tend to have dense breast tissue, which poses a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Dense breast tissue also makes it more difficult to detect breast cancer using traditional, older screening technology.
  • 3-D mammograms can more accurately detect breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue, reducing unnecessary callbacks for more tests and late diagnoses, which are stressful for patients and increase health care costs.

Reproductive Health

New York State private insurers must cover the ACA’s 10 Essential Health Benefits, “medically necessary” abortions, and the dispensing of up to 12 months of a contraceptive without a co-payment (regulations).

  • • Black women are more likely than their White counterparts to experience an unintended pregnancy because they are more likely to have difficulty paying for and accessing contraceptives and abortion services.
  • When Black women have access to affordable abortion services and contraceptives, they can achieve higher levels of educational and career advancement, and reduce the likelihood of economic insecurity by the prevention of unintended pregnancies.



Black Women Will Suffer Costs of Senate Tax Bill

WASHINGTON, DC (November 28, 2017). Last week, the House of Representatives passed a tax reform bill that would dramatically change our tax system by providing large, permanent tax cuts for corporations. Now, the Senate will vote on its version of tax reform, which includes a repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, the requirement that most
Read More

Suffering in Silence

Mood Disorders Among Pregnant and Postpartum Women of ColorBy Jamila Taylor and Christy M. Gamble  This article was originally published on the Center for American Progress website. Introduction and summary Pregnancy and childbirth can bring joy and fulfillment to a woman’s life. They can also bring anxiety, depression, and stress. If left untreated, postpartum depression and other
Read More

House Seeks to Pass a Total Ban on Abortions

WASHINGTON, DC (October 31, 2017) This week, the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss a bill that would require mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortions and would prevent women from obtaining abortions as early as six weeks. Under the “Heartbeat Protection Act of 2017,” health care providers who perform an
Read More

New cervical cancer screening recommendations put black women’s lives at risk

While we have made tremendous strides with the Affordable Care Act, black women in the United States are dying from cervical cancer, also known as “the silent killer,” at more than two times the rate of white women. Moreover, black women are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages with more aggressive forms of cervical
Read More

Trump Administration Policy Will Destroy Access to Affordable Birth Control

WASHINGTON, DC (October 6, 2017). Today, the Trump Administration released a rule which allows any employer, school, or other entity with not only a religious objection, but also a moral objection, to covering contraceptives in their health insurance plans. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that all insurance plans provide contraceptives at no out-of-pocket cost
Read More

House Plans to Pass Abortion Bill That Will Hurt Black Women’s Reproductive Health

WASHINGTON, DC (October 2, 2017) This week, the House of Representatives plans to vote on a bill that would prevent women from obtaining an abortion at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Under the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” medical providers who perform an abortion at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy could face a
Read More

BWHI Submits Letter for Record for Senate Hearing on Graham-Cassidy Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 25, 2017) Today, the Senate Committee on Finance will hold the only congressional hearing on the Graham-Cassidy proposal—the latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) submitted a letter for the record to reiterate the devastating impact that this proposal would have not just on
Read More

Trump Administration Attacks ACA By Cutting Essential Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 1, 2017) Yesterday, the Trump Administration slashed millions of dollars from the government’s budget that were intended to support the promotion of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) upcoming annual open enrollment period, slated to begin on November 1. These funds were to be used to support marketing efforts and the hiring of
Read More