Today is an exciting day for Wisconsin women! The U.S. Supreme Court announced their decision to uphold the new health care law – the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We can all sigh in relief today, knowing Wisconsin women will continue to win as we move forward with implementation of the ACA.
It is now up to the states, including Wisconsin, to make health care, including comprehensive women’s health care, available and affordable to keep women and families healthy. Moving forward with implementation of the ACA, insurance will cover more of what we need, when we need it, making women healthier and making it easier to take care of ourselves and our families.
In addition, today’s decision means:
We’ll have peace of mind that our children, teens and young adults will be safe, healthier and covered. Already, parents of 94,700 Wisconsin children with pre-existing conditions, like asthma or diabetes, have peace of mind knowing their child won’t ever be denied coverage.
We’ll be healthier. All new insurance plans must make basic women’s health services, like [mammograms, pap smears, cancer screenings] available with no co-pay, services that many women put off or just don’t get because of the high cost. Already, 413,000 Wisconsin women gained access to basic women’s health services with no co-pay. Starting August 1st, we can celebrate the addition of birth control coverage to this list of services that must be covered without co-pays. By covering services like birth control, the new law saves families $26 a month on average – the cost of a trip to the grocery store – helping everyone in these tough economic times.
We won’t have to worry that we’ll get kicked out of our insurance plan because we get sick. The law already prevents insurers from cancelling your policy if you develop breast cancer or other serious illnesses.
We won’t experience discrimination because we have a pre-existing condition. Already under the new law, 17 million children can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, including 94,700 in Wisconsin, and starting in 2014 neither will adults. And women will no longer have to pay more than men for the same insurance plan.
Although the ruling today is a victory for Wisconsin women and families, there was one part of the law that the Supreme Court did not uphold in its entirety. That is, the law’s provision to expand Medicaid coverage to low income adults – up to 133% of the federal poverty level – has not been fully upheld. Originally, if a state did not comply with the expansion they risked losing all of their Medicaid funding from the federal government. Today, the Court decided states should have the option to participate in the expansion – they would still receive enhanced federal funding if they did– but could not lose all Medicaid funding for not participating. It is important for Wisconsin to take advantage of all opportunities to cover all Wisconsin citizens, moving forward. In our state, we have moved to cover this lower income population under BadgerCare, and federal enhanced funding would make it easier to open the program for childless adults and ensure that all residents in our state have affordable options for coverage.
We know that we must move forward, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health will work with both the state and federal government to implement the law in the best way for women and families in Wisconsin.
As stated, this decision is a critical victory for Wisconsin women and their families. We are already feeling the positive impact of reforms on our health and economic security, and look forward to full implementation in Wisconsin.