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Planned Parenthood Commemorates Adoption of the Historic Affordable Care Act, Highlighting the Promise of Reform and Warning of Continued Efforts to Reverse It
Women and Families Already Benefitting from the Law
Planned Parenthood Federation of America today celebrated the first anniversary of the nation’s Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed into law one year ago. The hard-won reform measure has already secured important health-care benefits and patient protections for women and families since it went into effect. But these gains are under attack by special interests and must be vigorously defended.
The act’s tangible benefits include mandatory coverage of preventive care, including lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings and immunization, without co-pays. It bars insurers from refusing coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and from dropping individuals after they become sick. The act also provides $75 million in annual funding for fact-based sex education and teen pregnancy prevention.
Additional benefits, patient protections and affordability measures are scheduled to be phased in by 2014, when the full law takes effect. But the future of the Affordable Care Act — including the coverage of tens of millions of individuals who are currently uninsured — is under threat as conservative lawmakers work to dismantle the law and turn back the clock on this historic and significant public health achievement.
“The Affordable Care Act represents the greatest advancement for women’s health care in 45 years,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The law already has increased women’s access to reproductive care, but baseless repeal efforts and lawsuits threaten to take away early gains and deny affordable health care to millions of Americans.”
Despite polls showing that voters support the aims of health care reform — including lowering costs, expanding access to care, and ending insurers’ ability to deny coverage — opponents have filed lawsuits in Florida and Virginia to block its full enactment. In the House of Representatives, newly elected conservatives have also tried unsuccessfully to repeal the entire act.
In addition, opponents are trying to hijack the budget process and include riders repealing the health care law and barring Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds to provide preventive health care. These riders have nothing to do with the spending bills and are simply ideological attacks.
“Planned Parenthood, along with other progressive health care providers, will continue to support full enactment of the Affordable Care Act,” said Richards. “This law is especially important to women because we are disproportionately affected by the country’s broken health care system. Women are routinely charged higher premiums than men. Women are often denied coverage for so-called pre-existing conditions such as breast cancer or even pregnancy. The Affordable Care Act puts an end to those practices and provides many more benefits, including covering preventive care at no cost.”
In addition, a crucial provision in the health law may soon require coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives as preventive care, allowing women to fully access the birth control method of their choice without co-pays. The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to decide by August whether prescription birth control will be included on the agency’s list of preventive services that insurers must cover without co-pays or other additional charges.
In honor of the Affordable Care Act’s one year anniversary, Planned Parenthood is promoting a short animation video narrated by actor Julianne Moore to highlight the positive benefits for women in the new health law. You can watch the video here.
“We launched the online video so that more women can see how health care reform expands their access to cancer screenings and other lifesaving preventive services,” Richards said. “This act removes unfair and unwarranted barriers to basic health care.”
Planned Parenthood is also helping educate women about the new health care law in popular magazines like Women’s Health magazine.
While Planned Parenthood celebrates the many benefits in the new law, it continues to oppose the abortion provisions in the Affordable Care Act, as well as separate efforts by some legislators to restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion.
The Affordable Care Act sets up a complicated system requiring two separate payments from individuals, one for abortion coverage and one for all other health care coverage. Fortunately, the new health law does not ban private coverage of abortion services. Planned Parenthood helped defeat a plan that included that prohibition.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers can still cover comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, as long as private funds are used to pay for such coverage. But Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) misleadingly named “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” bill, which is currently under consideration by the House, threatens to take away women’s access to privately covered abortion services. Another bill introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) would close state-based health insurance exchanges to insurance plans that cover abortion.
As a part of its continued support of the Affordable Care Act and women’s access to comprehensive, affordable health care, Planned Parenthood will continue to fight any efforts to limit women’s reproductive rights and care.