Can you believe it? It’s been a year since the passing of the Affordable Care Act. While many of us can agree that the bill is far from perfect, I think that many can look at this bill and see the benefits that will make a difference for Minnesota women and families.
On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to attend a great community forum that discussed this bill and how it’s implementation is affecting so many Minnesotans. The event was lead by Congressman Keith Ellison and a panel of Phillip Cryan, Organizing Director of SEIU Health Care Minnesota, Elizabeth Frost, M.D., and Senator John Marty. The Congressman and panel gave great information about what the bill contained and the benefits to Minnesotans, however hearing from many of the attendees on what the bill meant for them was the most inspiring.
One man spoke about his god daughter who was diagnosed with leukemia last year and who’s medical costs and treatments cost over $1.7 million dollars. Now through the Affordable Care Act lifetime spending caps have been removed, his god daughter’s family doesn’t have to worry if she’s reached her maximum and can’t get treatments if she were to get sick again. Another woman spoke about her son who recently graduated college, who now through the Affordable Care Act can stay on her insurance until he is 26 and doesn’t have to worry about medical costs while also looking for a job. Another man told the story of his son who was born very premature and now through the Affordable Care Act he doesn’t need to worry about his son being denied coverage because of pre-existing condition. These stories were only a few of the many I heard last night that captured the importance of this bill.
The Affordable Care Act also includes many benefits to women's health, including:
• Extending health care coverage to tens of millions of women and families who currently don’t have insurance.
• Guaranteeing affordable access to lifesaving screenings for breast and cervical cancer.
• Stopping the discriminatory practice of charging women more than men for health insurance.
• Ending the practice of denying insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions, including breast cancer and pregnancy.
• Significantly increasing access to reproductive health care, including family planning.
• Including $75 million dollars for sex education.
• Providing women with direct access to ob/gyns, no longer requiring them to get a referral from another physician.
But the work on this bill isn’t over yet, we must continue to fight the abortions restrictions within this bill as well as ensure that birth control and contraception get covered under preventative care.
Women’s health care coverage is vitally important and without a doubt, health care reform is a step forward for women.
--by Sam, Minnesota Public Affairs Manager, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund