Women have much to celebrate, only one year after passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) women in Wisconsin are already seeing the benefits. Because of the ACA, women are guaranteed the right to choose their primary care physician, and barriers women faced to see an OB-GYN are eliminated. All new health plans are required to cover benefits such as maternity care and newborn care. And now women can get mammograms and other preventive care for themselves and their children without having to pay a co-pay.
The Affordable Care Act also eliminates discriminatory insurance practices like charging women more than men for health care coverage and denying coverage to domestic violence survivors and mothers who have had Caesarean sections because these are “pre-existing conditions”. Later in the year, the Department of Health and Human Services will issue a set of new guidelines for women’s preventative health care – likely following the strong body of evidence recognizing contraception as a vital part of preventative care. [Guttmacher Policy review, The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-Sharing]
Women across the country should be proud of how much we’ve gained. Raising Women’s Voices has published What Women Are Getting From Health Reform: A Top Ten List. One of the best things we can do as advocates for women’s health, is to share this information. Spread the word to your family and friends – the Affordable Care Act is positively impacting our lives. It must be preserved, and enhanced.
Despite all the gains for women and families in the Affordable Care Act, legislators across the country are moving not only to rescind the law, but also to disproportionately harm women’s health. Women in Wisconsin, and across the country are battling harmful anti-choice legislation and aggressive anti-woman’s health policies.
Governor Walker has proposed a budget that undermines Wisconsin women’s health, wellbeing, and economic security. His budget completely eliminates the state’s only family planning health care program and repeals the Contraceptive Equity law, allowing insurance companies to discriminate against women by denying coverage for prescription birth control. BadgerCare coverage will be eliminated for families making more than 133% of the federal poverty level – a threshold of $24,352 a year for a family of three. Wisconsin’s First Breath Program, which successfully helped pregnant women quit smoking, and has saved the Medicaid program over one million dollars, could have reduced funding. Services for victims of sexual assault will be reduced. And uninsured men will be removed from the BadgerCare Family Planning Program, which helps partners to access preventative health care services together. These cuts in essential health care services, and programs eliminated, will make a small dent in the budget deficit but will have a devastating impact on women and families in Wisconsin. This is unacceptable. [RH Reality Check, Walker Walks All Over Rights of Wisconsin Women]
As women’s health advocates, we fought hard for the advances that the Affordable Care Act is bringing to our families – now we have to stand strong together to fend off the anti-woman, anti-health reform attacks that threaten to roll back this progress.