We all know that the health care law signed by President Obama in 2010 has its detractors. It’s a shame. The law goes a long way to expanding access to health care for women. It’s not perfect, but the law does some really important things, like ending gender discrimination in health care and making sure insurance coverage includes services women need like maternity care. But, a majority of Missouri State Representatives do not agree with me. In fact, they loathe this law so much that the House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would make it illegal to implement the health care law. The bill states, “Any official, agent, or employee of the United States government who undertakes any act within the borders of this state that enforces or attempts to enforce any aspect of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”
Wow, a class A Misdemeanor for implementing the health care law? This is serious stuff. And it’s pretty unfortunate because Missouri could stand to improve health care access for women.
Here is what’s not working in Missouri: 100% of health plans in the individual market in Missouri charge women more for the same health coverage than if they were men and no health plans in the individual market provide maternity services for women.
These policies should be illegal, and under the health care law, they will be.
The health care law is already helping women and families in Missouri. Health plans must now cover preventive services such as mammograms, flu shots, and colon cancer screenings at no additional out of pocket costs such as co-payments. Over 408,000 women in Missouri are receiving preventive services without a co-payment. The law also allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until age 26. Nearly 40,000 young people in Missouri have gained coverage thanks to the law. And this is just the beginning. Women will experience even more benefits as the law is fully implemented in 2014.
Despite these advances, legislators in Missouri want to make it illegal to implement the law. It’s illegal to make sure women have maternity coverage? It’s illegal to insist women should not have to pay more for the same health coverage as men?
Don’t let the opponents have their way. We will not be denied.