Yesterday, the House voted along party lines to repeal the Affordable Care Act (which, incidentally, is a much more informative name than “Obamacare,” whatever that is). What does that mean for the future of health care in the US? Well, not much.
This is a largely symbolic move on the part of the Republicans to demonstrate strength and please their base. With a Democratic majority in the Senate, Harry Reid will make sure it never sees the light of day. And even if by some odd turn of events it passed the Senate, the President would still need to sign it,* which would then require 2/3 of both the House AND the Senate to override his veto. They wouldn’t even be able to get that much support in just the House. So in short, repeal isn’t going anywhere, at least not right now. And the longer it stands, more of the rolling provisions are implemented. The more real people start to benefit from the new law instead of it just being a bunch of abstract concepts that are difficult to understand, the harder it will be to pull them back.
But it’s important that we take this opportunity to talk about the Affordable Care Act in a much smarter way than we did last year. Instead of supporters of the plan arguing with each other about how far we could or should go in designing the reforms, we can come together to discuss the strengths of the law as it stands now. In short, this is our chance to speak with a united voice against the “Obama is a socialist”** naysayers.
Yesterday, constant defender of the little guy Congresswoman Louise Slaughter*** posted this on her blog, in which she outlines some of the ways that the Affordable Care Act specifically helps women. It’s very enlightening.
By the time the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014:
* The practice of “gender rating” will end.
* Maternity services will be included in all health insurance plans offered as part of the health insurance exchanges.
* Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence. Previously, eight states and the District of Columbia allowed insurance companies to deny such coverage. No more. Under the Affordable Care Act, this practice is outlawed, and victims of domestic violence will be able to safely and securely access the treatment they deserve.
* Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to classify pregnancy and C-sections as “pre-existing conditions”, and women will no longer face the prospect of discrimination because they gave birth.
* Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to place “lifetime limits” on health benefits for women, and end care when its need the most.
* Women who do not have access to insurance through employers will be able to obtain insurance through health insurance exchanges. These exchanges are being designed as we speak to offer a wide selection of health insurance plans at competitive rates.
* Women will receive free preventative health services, from mammograms to pap smears.
* The “donut hole” in Medicare Part D will be closed through the Affordable Care Act, helping older women pay for healthcare as they grow older.
And all of this will be gone if the Republican majority has their way, America should tremble.
This barely scratches the surface of who the law will help. Posturing or not, all of those people who voted for repeal yesterday want to take these rights away. If your Representative voted yes, I encourage you to write and let him or her know that you support these protections for women, and for everyone else. You can find out who your member of Congress is here and submit an e-mail right on the site. They need to know that there are people out there who do support the legislation. If all they hear are voices crying out about “socialism” and “stealing my money,” then they will continue to roll back our rights and privileges and hold up THOSE letters and e-mails and phone calls as reasons why.
*Or let it sit for 10 days while Congress is in session without doing anything, at which point it would become law.
**They really ought to sit in on one of my classes someday. Even my first year students can understand it pretty easily. Words have meanings!
***Full disclosure: She is my favorite elected official. Shh, don’t tell Bossman.