The National Organization for Women applauds the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is an important victory, as now millions of women and their families can be ensured better health care and preventive services. It is worth noting that the Supreme Court is only 33 percent women, but women made the difference in this decision. And it was a woman, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who deserves credit for pushing President Obama’s bill across the finish line.
The ACA specifically helps women gain access to quality, affordable health care by: requiring insurers to cover contraception and other preventive health care without co-pays; prohibiting sex-based discrimination in pricing insurance premiums; ending the odious practice of refusing coverage because of pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy); expanding Medicaid eligibility to potentially include more than 14 million low-income earners; and providing insurance premium subsidies to over 35 million people, disproportionately women, who don’t qualify for Medicaid, don’t have employer-based coverage and can’t afford insurance on their own.
NOW has long advocated for adoption of a single-payer model, such as Medicare for all, to provide universal health care coverage for 100 percent of the population at significantly lower cost than our current for-profit system. The Affordable Care Act, while far from that ideal, does establish in law the principle that everyone in this country should have access to affordable, comprehensive and quality health care. We have much work to do to reach that goal, but the ACA represents an important first step.
Terry O’Neill, president, National Organization for Women