Planned Parenthood, More than 200 Other Organizations, and 41 State Attorneys General Applaud Defeat of the "Lose Your Benefits Bill"; Dangerous Insurance Legislation Threatened Access to Contraception
WASHINGTON, DC — Americans' access to health coverage achieved a major victory today with the defeat of the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act (S.1955-HIMMAA), introduced by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), a law that would exempt insurance companies from virtually all state laws designed to protect and ensure health insurance benefits coverage. Among the many state laws that could have been negated are those designed to ensure insurance coverage of women's health care, such as cervical cancer screening and contraception.
"This law would have had a devastating impact on women's access to birth control, mammograms, prenatal care and other essential health care needs," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "We are grateful to the thousands of activists who rallied to protect the health insurance benefits of the more than 80 million Americans whose coverage was at risk. Their voices were essential in defeating this dangerous legislation."
Planned Parenthood activists, along with coalition partners, made more than 15,000 phone calls to U.S. senators to voice their opposition to the bill. Recognizing the crucial importance of family planning as part of basic health care, Senators Reid (D-NV), Clinton (D-NY),and Murray (D-WA) yesterday introduced an amendment to the bill that would ensure that access to family planning would be protected.
Women's health care coverage would have been among the hardest hit by this law, nullifying hundreds of state laws that ensure patients get the medical care they need. The law would have potentially
- not allowed women to designate their ob/gyns as primary care providers
- not allowed women to seek care directly from their ob/gyns, but would force them to be screened by their primary care doctors first
- dismantled coverage for contraception
- dismantled coverage for annual cervical and ovarian cancer exams
- not allowed women to stay with the same doctor throughout a pregnancy, if that doctor was dropped from the insurance provider plan.
For years, many insurance plans covered prescription drugs, but refused to cover birth control pills and other prescription contraceptives for women. In the past decade, lawmakers in 23 states have remedied this inequity and enacted contraceptive coverage laws. Under HIMMAA, women would have lost contraceptive equity protections currently guaranteed by state law.
More than 250 national organizations, health plans, and state officials have opposed passage of HIMMAA. This includes 41 state attorneys general, 19 state insurance commissioners, many governors, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Diabetes Association, United Cerebral Palsy, the American Cancer Society, the American Nurses Association, the American Mental Health Association, and the American Association of People with Disabilities.
See the full list of organizations and officials who opposed S. 1955.
May 11, 2006