I sat on the edge of my seat, with butterflies in my stomach, waiting for the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.
I, like millions of other moms, have family members with pre-existing conditions who've already been helped by the consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act. And the very idea of health reform being rolled back so that people who I love dearly would again be at the mercy of insurance companies which could cancel their health policies just when they need them most, or deny them coverage completely due to pre-existing conditions, has been keeping me awake at night.
In short: The Supreme Court ruling today had me doing a happy dance of relief. And I'm not alone. At my organization, MomsRising, we've heard from thousands upon thousands of moms across the country about how the Affordable Care Act has already made a critical difference in their lives.
Moms like Julie Walters, whose 5-year-old daughter has a rare health condition and was facing a lifetime limit to her health coverage before the Affordable Care Act was passed:
"I'm so overjoyed and relieved! I will be able to sleep soundly for the first time in months now knowing that the Supreme Court won't allow the insurance industry to put a cap on my daughter's health care or punish her for a pre-existing condition that is no fault of her own."
And, moms like Tracy Heiman, who wrote to us with this after the passage of health reform:
"With the passing of reform, I have relief that my son until the age of 19 will not be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. I have relief that my son will not have to face an annual or lifetime limit for his care. I have relief that my son can stay on our health insurance plan until the age of 26. Our insurance company cannot drop us from the plan when we need insurance the most."
"There may not be a cure for my son's sarcoma at this time, and this fact weighs heavily for our family. But knowing that health care insurance, because of reform, has been improved and a safety net has been put into place, we can have some peace."
Tracy and Julie are also not alone in their relief today. Their children are among the one out of two Americans who have a pre-existing condition who will be/would have been protected from denials of coverage by the Affordable Care Act
Indeed, The Affordable Care Act has improved the lives and health of millions. So far, because of health reform:
• 86 million Americans have been able to get important preventive care including well checks, vaccines, and cancer screenings that help reduce health care costs down the line.
• Approximately 3.1 million young adults are no longer uninsured because they now have the option of staying on their parents' health plans - giving this generation a chance to get a healthy start to their adult life.
• Approximately 5 million children with pre-existing conditions are not facing a lifetime of insurance denials and reaching a lifetime limit of medical care.
At MomsRising, we've heard from thousands of moms and dads across the country who are sleeping better at night because they know their families can get the health care they need.
The Affordable Care Act also has made it possible for women to get the preventive care they need by requiring all new insurance plans to cover certain preventive health care services without cost-sharing. This is critical for women, who tend to have more preventive health needs and lower incomes than men. The list of required benefits includes vital women's health services such as: mammograms; screenings for cancer, gestational diabetes, domestic violence, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases; lactation and breastfeeding support and equipment, well-woman visits, and contraception.
Approximately 20 million women have already received a prevention service at no cost. For many, having these prevention services makes the difference between having these screenings and not. A report by the Commonwealth Fund found that in 2009, more than half of women delayed or avoided preventive care because of its cost. That's double the number who put off preventive care just two years earlier. Removing cost sharing requirements improves women's access to important preventive services. In fact, one study found that the rate of women getting a mammogram went up as much as 9% when cost sharing was removed.
MomsRising member Cindy's experience is a perfect example. As advised by her doctor, Cindy scheduled a colonoscopy after her 50th birthday. However, she had to cancel the procedure after learning that it would cost her $2,300 because she had used her insurance policy's entire allotment for prevention care (just $300 per year!) on her annual physical, leaving her responsible for any additional preventive services. A year later, after the no-cost prevention care provision of health reform took effect, Cindy got her colonoscopy free of charge. She's relieved she can take care of herself and be there for her two children. Cindy is now one of the 54 million Americans who has received at least one preventative health service without a co-pay or deductible payment.
1 in 2 Americans has a pre-existing condition. That means approximately 129 million people could be denied care without the Affordable Care Act's preexisting condition protections. The new benefits of health reform have already saved lives and freed millions of Americans from worrying that they'll lose or be denied insurance due to preexisting conditions. Because of this provision, MomsRising member Dawn's young son has been able to get coverage for a pre-existing eye condition. Before the Affordable Care Act, Dawn was facing crushing monthly bills just to pay for necessary treatments for her child. Now she's able to sleep at night because she knows her son is covered, and can no longer be excluded from health care coverage due to his condition.
Health care reform has already begun providing tax credits for small businesses to purchase coverage for their employees. Nan, a small business owner who owns a record label, says the Affordable Care Act has "improved my business, my life, and can go on to improve the lives of the people I represent." Because of health reform, she received $12,000 in health credits, which she was able to reinvest into her business. Her monthly health care premiums for her staff also went down for the first time in a dozen years.
As the MomsRising member stories show, rolling back health-care reform hurts our families and our economy. Keeping the Affordable Care Act moving forward saves lives, as well as protects both our pocketbooks and our personal freedoms to get the health care we and our families need, when we need it. The new benefits have freed millions of Americans from worrying that they'll lose or be denied insurance.
Too much is at stake to remain silent. Already, before the ink was dry on the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act this morning, some corporate lobbyists and politicians are continuing to try to find a way to gut families' access to healthcare by undermining this critical law that protects healthcare consumers - playing politics with our health, instead of working to create jobs and strengthen our economy.
We've seen first-hand the positive impact health reform has had already--and we won't go back to the days when consumers had no power to fight against insurance company abuses like dropping people from coverage when they get sick. MomsRising members have advocated for accessible, affordable health care since the organization was founded in 2006. Our members have played an active role in supporting the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Together, we've made more than 600,000 constituent contacts with legislators. MomsRising members have met with Members of Congress in their district offices, shared their stories with lawmakers, made phone calls to legislative offices, sent emails and sent messages which were delivered to federal legislators in-person by MomsRising members and staff in Washington, DC.
Moms are powerful: We fight for our kids' health, and we fight for change.
We will celebrate this victory by continuing to work our hardest to protect the health of families across the country.
When our children's health is on the line, nothing can stop us. Our nation's families need health reform. Not only so that moms and dads across the nation can sleep better at night, but also because allowing everyone to have secure, affordable access to preventative healthcare saves tax dollars and helps our economy in the long run.