Why Obamacare Is Worth Fighting For
By Sandra Fluke, Guardian UK
Now that the supreme court has declared, once and for all, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, much of the debate has turned to the politics of the ruling and what it means for the coming election. It's events like Thursday's that shine a light on the stark contrasts between our two presidential candidates.
In the hours after yesterday's ruling, Governor Romney wasted no time reminding us that repealing Obamacare will be a top priority if he's elected, egged on by congressional Republicans who had already scheduled a vote to dismantle the law. Meanwhile, President Obama continued to focus on the real-world benefits this law will bring to millions of Americans.
I agree with the president that we cannot lose sight of the human impact this law will have on young women and men just graduating from college; on mothers, fathers, and children alike. And while the supreme court's decision was a decisive victory for the American people, it does also underscore just how much is at stake in this election.
Let's consider just what Romney and Republican lawmakers would be repealing. As the Affordable Care Act continues to take effect, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to engage in "gender rating" – the discriminatory practice of charging women higher premiums for the same coverage as men. This alone could put $1bn per year back in women's pocketbooks.
Insurance companies will be required to use your premium dollars for your healthcare. Nearly 13 million Americans can expect a rebate soon, because their insurance company spent too much on administrative costs last year.
Pregnant women will be guaranteed maternity coverage to ensure their health and to give their children a healthy start in life. Forty-five million women will have no co-pays for preventative care, such as pap smears, mammograms, birth control, STI testing, well-woman check-ups, and immunizations. Insurance companies will be banned from requiring women to get pre-authorization or referrals in order to access routine gynaecological care.
Americans earning low and modest incomes – between $14,404 to $43,320 for individuals, and between $29,326 to $88,200 for a family of four – will have the choice of getting a subsidy to help pay for insurance.
Governor Romney's objection to this law is hypocrisy at its worst – especially since he enacted a very similar health reform measure in Massachusetts. But for Romney, that's not really the point. For him, this is about politics. And that's where he and our president couldn't be farther apart.
In addressing our country following this historic ruling, President Obama reminded us that this law and his decision to fight to enact it was never about politics. Popular or not, it was about a belief that "here in America – in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin."
Here in America, in 2010 – the same year the law was enacted – 26,000 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely because they didn't have health insurance. That's tens of thousands of American lives that might have been saved if a law like the Affordable Care Act had been in place earlier.
As President Obama has acknowledged, this law isn't perfect and we should work to improve it where needed. But repealing it would take our country, our economy, and the financial security of millions of Americans in a dangerous direction. It would quite literally put lives on the line.
That is why we must all fight, in the voting booth, to protect this law and protect each other's access to the quality, affordable healthcare we need and deserve.