By Cindy Pearson
As I write this column, health care reform is under attack in Congress. Opponents of reform have seized upon one specific women’s health issue and are using it to try to undermine the entire effort. Sound familiar? It should. Almost exactly two years ago, health care reform opponents used a specific women’s health issue to try to stop the reform process altogether.
Two years ago, the issue was abortion; today, it’s contraception. Opponents failed to stop health reform from passing in 2010, but they did succeed in creating new restrictions on abortion coverage. Today’s opponents aren’t going to be able to stop health reform either, but they’re trying to make women pay more for birth control by repealing the new rules that make insurers cover contraception without any additional fees.
All these fights about women’s health services are important, and NWHN has devoted itself to not only educating women about what’s at risk, but also to mobilizing women to raise their voices in support of these important services. To get up-to-the minute information about the latest attacks and how you can help us respond, go to www.nwhn.org.
While we are still fighting to protect women’s health services, we should take a minute to realize how much we’ve gained from health care reform. The 2nd anniversary of the signing of the Accountable Care Act is March 23, 2012. While all aspects of reform won’t be implemented until 2014, there’s already plenty to celebrate:
Insurance companies are prohibited from canceling the policies of people who get sick.
Insurance companies can no longer set lifetime limits or “unreasonable” annual limits on the amount of medical care they will cover under existing policies.
Children can stay on their family policies until their 26th birthday.
Women who are on Medicare Part D and have high prescription drug expenses now pay less for their medications.
Children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage.
Insurers have to spend more of the money they collect on your medical care and less on CEO salaries, marketing, and overhead.
All new insurance plans are required to cover preventive health care without imposing any additional costs (like co-payments) on policyholders.
And there’s more good stuff coming. Over the next two years, if health reform is implemented as planned, we’ll see the end of charging women more than men for insurance; new coverage for women’s preventive health services that is equal to coverage for kids and older adults; expanded Medicaid coverage in states that used deny coverage to the working poor; and, for those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, more help paying for private insurance.
We had to fight to accomplish these gains for women. Even though the new health reform law is far from perfect – it doesn’t cover everyone, and it still allows insurers, drug companies, and hospitals to charge exorbitant fees – it’s the biggest step forward in access to health care that’s happened in a generation. We’ll keep fighting to make sure that the promise of health reform is fulfilled. On its second birthday, we say: Thank you, health reform!
For more about health care services you’ll get through reform, turn to the “Countdown to Coverage” overview on page 10.