February 1, 2018

Contact: Kathy Melley, 617-791-0708

New Program Will Protect and Advance Women’s Access to Health Coverage and Care

(Boston, MA and New York, NY)Community Catalyst today launched the Women’s Health Program, which is devoted to improving access to a full range of quality health care services for women and their families, as well as defending coverage gains the Affordable Care Act has made possible. The new program will be led by Lois Uttley, who has more than 20 years of experience creating and managing projects that protect and expand women’s access to reproductive health care, help women and families enroll in and use health insurance, and improve women’s and LGBTQ individuals’ health coverage.

The new program integrates into Community Catalyst the work of MergerWatch, a New York-based project Ms. Uttley founded in 1997 to protect access to women’s health services when hospitals merge, downsize or close. The Women’s Health Program will also assume MergerWatch’s role as one of three organizations that co-coordinate Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need (Raising Women’s Voices), a national health reform initiative with regional coordinators in 30 states.

“MergerWatch and the Raising Women’s Voices initiative have been national leaders in lifting up the voices of women who are rarely represented in health policy discussions, particularly women of color, immigrant women, older women, low-income women and members of the LGBTQ community,” said Community Catalyst Executive Director Rob Restuccia. “Given the incessant attacks on women’s health by the Trump administration, now is as important a time as ever to combine our strengths by bringing this important work and talented team into Community Catalyst under a dedicated program focused on protecting and advancing women’s health.”

“The creation of a Women’s Health Program at Community Catalyst is an important opportunity to bring women’s health perspectives and concerns to the work of an influential national consumer health organization,” said Ms. Uttley, the Program Director. “We will be focusing attention on women’s health needs across the lifespan, from reproductive health care to long-term care, and fighting attempts to discriminate against women in access to care or coverage. We will advocate for policies that ensure women and our families can get the right care at the right time, at an affordable price.”

“It’s past time for women to have a powerful voice at the health care decision-making table, and to claim our full rights to all the health services we need throughout our lives at a time when those rights are being rolled back every day,” said Kate Villers, president and founder of Community Catalyst. “I’m very excited that Lois and her team are joining Community Catalyst and adding their strong leadership to our commitment to this long-term fight.” 

The Women’s Health Program at Community Catalyst focuses on three key areas of work:

  • Defending and building on the policy gains for women’s health that the Affordable Care Act has made possible. In partnership with the National Women’s Health Network and the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the program guides Raising Women’s Voices , providing funding and advocacy support to 30 regional coordinators around the country who work to influence federal and state policies on women’s health.
  • Helping women and families learn how to enroll in and effectively use health insurance to get the care they need without unexpected costs. Because women are often the arrangers of health care for their entire families, the Women’s Health Program leads Raising Women’s Voices’ literacy campaign, My Health, My Voice, which has educated thousands of newly-insured women about how to use their coverage to navigate a complex health system.
  • Protecting access to women’s health services, especially reproductive health care, as hospitals merge and health systems consolidate. The Women’s Health Program advocates for state oversight of hospital consolidation that is more transparent, better engages affected consumers and protects community access to care in response to the growing trend of community hospital consolidation or mergers with large health systems. This consolidation often leads to downsizing or closing of women’s health units, such as maternity care, or to the discontinuation of specific services, such as contraceptive counseling, tubal ligations or abortion care. The program also publishes research, proposes policy improvements and provides support to community-based advocates facing proposed mergers. 

The Women’s Health Program is based in New York City, expanding Community Catalyst’s presence beyond its Boston headquarters and offices in Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and St. Louis. For more information about the Women’s Health Program, please visit


About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, courtrooms, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub.