Mother’s Day this Sunday marked the start of National Women’s Health Week, a time to recognize the great strides we’ve made for women’s healthcare equality, but also a reminder of the challenges that remain.
Once faced with disproportionately higher healthcare costs, now, under the Affordable Care Act, not only are maternity services mandated for all insurance plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace, but insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny coverage or charge higher premiums based on gender.
Even among the insured population, significant gender inequities existed. Women were more likely to be under-insured, with gaps in coverage that left them medically or financially at risk, because insurers could treat being a woman as a “pre-existing condition” and deny coverage.
We’ve made incredible progress in recent years. Women’s medical needs are covered more than ever before and they are no longer charged more for the same services just because of their gender. But there is still a great deal more to be done for women’s health, including fighting Tea Party led attacks on the ACA.
The continued Republican assault on the ACA jeopardizes many of the healthcare protections women now enjoy and would leave them financially vulnerable once again. Just last year, the proposed Republican budget eliminated all funding for the Title X Family Planning Program and Planned Parenthood, whose health centers serve more than five million individuals each year with cancer screenings and other critical health services. I was proud to stand against this harmful bill, which died in the Senate.
Besides rolling back many of the protections the ACA secures, the Ryan Budget proposed by House Republicans this year would have jeopardized the healthcare security of 47 million American women. The Ryan Budget would have dropped 200,000 women and children from Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) by 2016 and raised drug costs for 4 million women seniors in the prescription drug ‘donut hole’. Most harmful, low income women would be disproportionately hurt by Rep. Ryan’s proposed $732 billion cut to Medicaid.
I have always made women’s health a priority and the Obama Administration has echoed that commitment. This Women’s Health Week, we should all take time to reflect on that progress we’ve made advancing healthcare security for women. I will continue fighting efforts that undermine that progress on these critical issues.