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The National Women's Political Caucus is a multi-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to increasing women's political participation and the number of women in elected and appointed office. The Caucus has chapters in states across the country.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Preventative Care: Protect the Affordable Care Act


Guest Blogger: Mallen Urso

Two years ago, with the passage of Health Care Reform, women across the country gained necessary and equal access to healthcare.  This groundbreaking effort has made women’s health a top priority, and for that we should celebrate. Young or old, sexually active or not, perfectly health or with a pre-existing condition, this non-discriminatory act is a huge step toward making it possible for us to begin and/or maintain healthy lifestyles.   Oftentimes women’s health falls to the bottom of the list, but it doesn’t have to anymore.  How did such fabulous progress happen in 2010 when in 2012 we have taken so many steps backwards?  It is hard to remember a time when we weren’t under such brutal attack, but we must remember: we owe this progress to women voters.  We got out, we voted, and we elected leadership that would make our healthcare a priority!

Once the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in full effect, millions of women across the country will gain better, more encompassing service without unnecessary costs and obstacles.  First and foremost, gender discrimination is outlawed under the Affordable Care Act.  No longer will women be charged more money simply because we are women.  We are granted fair and equal coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions.   Moreover,   we are now promised access to a well-woman package including annual OB/GYN visits that allow us to take care of our bodies and treat them with the respect they deserve.  These services get rid of extreme deductibles and even co-pays.  In addition, counseling for victims of sexual and/or domestic abuse will also be covered under the Affordable Care Act.  These are imperative services that women across the country need for rehabilitation, but have been forced to live without.  The ACA also eliminates a great deal of obstacles for women scheduling doctor’s visits.  No prior approval is needed for a trip to your OB/GYN.  Women can now directly access a health professional.  Not only is this easier, but this will give women a greater sense of independence. 
 
The key here is prevention, and I’m not just talking about contraception.  While contraception is a large part of preventative services, I am also addressing breast cancer screenings, mammograms, ovarian and cervical cancer screenings, and pap smears.  Women can now access a full spectrum of preventative healthcare that will potentially eliminate a great deal of financial and physical hardship.  It costs everyone less if major health problems are avoided.

Similar to most other policies that benefit women, the Affordable Care Act is under attack.  In January of 2011, Republican leadership introduced a bill to overturn the ACA, and though it easily passed the Republican controlled House, the Democratic controlled Senate blocked the bill just as easily.  Although this was a victory, we must defend healthcare reform once again. It is now up to the Supreme Court justices whether or not the ACA is overturned.   Since the ACA was passed, 26 states have filed suit against it.  On March 26th, the Supreme Court will begin oral arguments regarding the ACA and will vote just days later on March 30th.    This could lead to the reversal of healthcare reform, and thus reinstate legal gender discrimination on insurance costs, revoke women’s direct access to preventative care, and discontinue vital victim counseling services.  Women’s health could be further suppressed if the Supreme Court chooses to overturn this decision.    

Although I have heard numerous arguments for and against The Affordable Care Act, I am grateful that this measure has passed.  Women and men across the country are now able to be proactive when it comes to their health.  I am to proud live in a country where we value fairness, protection, and the quality of life for our citizens.  Access to healthcare is something that we just can’t afford to push aside.  The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not protected when we allow millions of Americans to unnecessarily suffer.  That is why I am excited to celebrate the 2 year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act and will continue my support for this measure.   Now that women’s health has become a priority, we are receiving fair and equal coverage under the law.  Equal and fair shouldn’t feel so new and thrilling, but it certainly does.