By Leslie Durgin
The Supreme Court’s decision is just the beginning. Now it’s our turn to protect it.
The court’s decision to uphold President Obama’s health care law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is a victory for women and families. Today we are closer to ensuring every Coloradan has access to basic health care. While this is cause to celebrate, we know there is still work to do and we must remain vigilant.
At Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado we understand how the health care law will have an unprecedented effect on women’s health. The law guarantees women direct access to preventative health care providers without referrals, and ends discriminatory practices against women, such as charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. In just six weeks, women with qualifying insurance plans will gain access to birth control without a co-pay—which will have a tremendous economic impact on already stretched family budgets.
Since August 2010, more than 45 million women have already received full coverage for preventive health screenings, including mammograms and Pap tests. As a breast cancer survivor, I know first hand how important access to these preventive screenings is. Women who do not have access to affordable care often forgo these life-saving tests, and an early diagnosis often means the difference between life and death. Providing women with access to these vital services save lives.
Now with this ruling, 17 million more women will have access to health insurance for the first time. And millions more young adults will be able to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans, just like the 3.1 million young adults who have done so since September 2010. In Colorado alone, over 100,000 women of reproductive age will now gain coverage under the ACA by 2014.
However as we celebrate this wonderful news, we must recognize the road ahead will be bumpy. Within moments of the Supreme Court’s decision, politicians who oppose the President’s health care law took to the airwaves vowing to overturn it. In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote to repeal the law on July 11. In Colorado, certain members of the state House and Senate vowed to do what they could to fight implementation of the ACA during the next legislative session.
Those of us who are concerned about women’s health are no stranger to this heated rhetoric and vitriolic disdain. Indeed, a woman’s access to basic health care has been the subject of debate quite frequently this past year. From breast cancer screenings to access to birth control, women’s health issues have taken center stage.
As the heated debate continues there is something each and every one of us can do. We must remind ourselves of the importance of elections and we must vote. It’s time to speak out and tell politicians to support women and families and to support access to affordable health care. Tell those politicians who impede access to affordable care that you will hold them accountable when you vote in the fall.
Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado will continue to help elect and support candidates who are working to advance the health Colorado’s women and families. But we can’t do it alone. Everyone who supports access to affordable care and access to women’s health services should register to vote. And in November, you must take to the polls and take a stand for access to affordable care and for women’s health.
Leslie Durgin, MPA, is senior vice president of public policy and communications for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.