As the youngest representative currently serving in the state House, I am deeply disappointed by the assault on women's access to quality health care.
I, like many Colorado women, support no-cost contraception which was achieved through the Affordable Care Act.
President Obama recently showed the true qualities of leadership when he adjusted the provisions of contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act. Acknowledging the good will of stakeholders on both sides of the debate, he engaged in a productive conversation and respected those views that differed from his own. The president announced a small change to the Department of Health and Human Services' contraception ruling that accommodates religiously based institutions while continuing to protect women's health.
Under the new policy, all women will have access to no-cost preventative care including contraception no matter where they work. Now, however, it will become incumbent upon insurers, not religiously affiliated employers, to provide contraception directly. As before, under this policy, women who want contraception will have access to it through their insurance with no co-pay or deductible.
Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a measure that would allow any employer to refuse to insure birth control or any other health service for any moral reason. This legislation, from Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), stipulates that employers and health plans don't have to provide coverage for any service that they object to.
Think about what that means for a second.
This legislation would allow any employer or insurance company to not only deny access to birth control, but also to any essential health care service, including maternity care, HIV/AIDS treatment, mammograms, and cancer screenings.
Indeed, it is unbelievable that this assault on women's health is taking place in the year 2012.
The effort to bolster preventative services for women isn't new. Colorado is one of 28 states that already require contraception coverage in health insurance plans similar to the new federal rule, thanks to House Bill 1021 signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter in 2010.
Birth control is basic health care. More fundamentally, it allows a woman to plan whether and when to start a family and how many children to have. It allows woman to participate in society equally, allowing her to pursue educational, professional, and economic goals.
Contraception gets prescribed for a variety of medical and health reasons, including reducing the risk of some cancers, serious infections and cysts. Requiring coverage also reduces costs -- many women pay between $30 and $50 a month for contraceptives; they'd save up to $600 a year, and the National Business Group on Health estimated that employers would save between 15 and 17 percent on health care costs if they provide contraception coverage.
Which is why in the real world, there is widespread support for the birth control benefit. A New York Times/CBS News poll found that 65 percent of American voters said they supported the benefit, and 59 percent said the health insurance plans of religiously affiliated employers should cover the cost of birth control. The number of supporters is similar among self-professed Catholics surveyed: 61 percent said they support the requirement, while 32 percent oppose it.
Just like President Obama, my values are informed by my faith, and that's why I stand in good conscience for affordable access to contraceptives for Colorado's women.
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