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Giddy! Affordable Care Act Upheld

June 28, 2012

es, I get giddy about things like U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and today’s decision is definitely one that merits the joyous, slightly-lightheaded feeling.  Today, SCOTUS upheld as constitutional the Affordable Care Act, the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation.  A hallmark of the Affordable Care Act is the expansion of affordable preventive health care for everyone.  For example, just in the first two years of the law, 3.1 million young adults who likely would not have been able to prior to the ACA now are allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance. 

Of course we don’t know all the details yet – but there is a lot we do know, based on what the law has already accomplished.  In the spirit of celebration, let’s review them.

For women specifically, the law provides numerous benefits, including access to birth control and cancer screenings without co-pays, guaranteeing women direct access to OB/GYN providers without referrals, and ending discriminatory practices against women, such as charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for “pre-existing conditions” which sometimes included pregnancy and being treated for injuries resulting from domestic violence incidents. 

Have no doubt, Planned Parenthood stands firmly alongside women, families, and patients across this country whose access to affordable, quality health care is transformed by the ACA.  More than 45 million women have already received coverage for preventive health screenings – including mammograms and Pap tests – at no cost since August 2010, and millions more women will be able to get the free screenings in the coming year.  And, women have been granted direct access to OB/GYN providers without first needing referrals. 

Birth control isn’t a political issue – it’s barely even a social issue – it’s basic health care and it’s an economic concern.  Women spend up to $600 a year on birth control, and this decision means it will now be fully covered.  The money women will save on birth control each year is equal to five weeks of groceries for a family of four, nine tanks of gas in a minivan, or one semester of college textbooks. 

Credit has to be given not just to the five Justices who decided the ACA is constitutional – if you’re keeping count, it’s Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Bader Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor – but also to President Obama and the members of Congress who crafted and passed the bill. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the contrast between President Obama and Mitt Romney on this issue could not be starker.  What President Obama understands that Mitt Romney doesn’t is that women’s health issues are economic issues.  Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has stated that he plans to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions of women and men without care.  It’s clear: reproductive health care will, and should, be a decisive issue for voters in this election.

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