Obamacare Establishes Full Women's Health Parity, GOP Steps Up War on Women

Today is not just the deadline for health insurance companies to refund you (or your employer) portions of your premiums if they spent too much on things that are ... you know.... not health care, today is also the day women become fully equal in our health care system.

Today is the day that a host of preventive services especially important for women's health are being added to the list of preventive services your insurance company must cover without a copay or deductible, including, you guessed it, contraceptive services. Among the services covered are:
  • Well-woman visits.
  • Gestational diabetes screening that helps protect pregnant women from one of the most serious pregnancy-related diseases.
  • Domestic and interpersonal violence screening and counseling.
  • FDA-approved contraceptive methods, and contraceptive education and counseling.
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling.
  • HPV DNA testing, for women 30 or older.
  • Sexually transmitted infections counseling for sexually-active women.
  • HIV screening and counseling for sexually-active women.
You can see more complete descriptions here. Just as these essential, lifesaving services for women are beginning to be covered without any extra burden beyond one's premiums, Republicans are trying fast and hard to try to repeal the whole health reform law, and with it, these benefits. But Democrats aren't taking their attempts lying down. They are letting women know who stands by them.

So the war on women is back. Well, actually, it never went away. The House Republicans voted yesterday for a bill to force victims of rape to bear the rapist's child. Not to be outdone, whackjob Senator from Utah, Mike Lee, has attached an amendment to the same effect on the Senate's cybersecurity bill; an amendment, I should note, that has no chance of passing. Not to mention the House Republicans are still blocking and stalling the Violence Against Women Act on grounds that it might protect gays, lesbians, native Americans, and (heaven forbid) undocumented immigrant women who are subject to domestic violence.

This is the contrast between the two parties. This is not about some abstract thing. This is about real lives. About real people. We are literally talking about life and death. While one party is implementing full health care parity for women, the other would rather continue insurance company practices of treating the condition of having two X chromosomes as a pre-existing condition. While one party is ensuring that expecting mothers get all the prenatal services they need, including gestational diabetes screenings, the other party is busy passing state laws to make the government small enough to fit on the top of a vaginal probe so it can get into a women's vagina and see what's happening. While one party is fighting to expand protections against and treatments for domestic violence and sexual assault, the other is attempting to make sure the government forces victims of sexual assault to carry their pregnancies to term.

I am sick and tired of Republicans standing in the way of lives being saved. I am sick and tired of the media pretending like this is just a political fight and that "both sides do it." I am sick and tired.

But I am also encouraged. I am encouraged to see Democrats stand up and take the fight to Republicans on the Affordable Care Act's protections for women. I am encouraged to see millions of women and men already benefiting from benefits of health care reform - reform that I am damn proud of - and receiving big and small checks from their insurance companies. I am encouraged to see the wild insurance market finally being reined in and regulated. I am encouraged to see cancer survivors who can now get coverage under the ACA's high risk pools, to see 3. million more young people covered under their parents' insurance, to see children who can no longer be denied health insurance for a pre-existing condition (right now - to be expanded to all in 2014).

If there is any questions in anyone's mind as to why a new, young, popular president spent all of his political capital to pass health care reform, here is my answer: he did it because it was the most direct way of saving the greatest amount of lives. He did it because it was a once-in-a-century opportunity to do it, and it would help countless millions who have insurance have better, most cost-effective coverage and 32 million who don't have insurance gain it. He did it because if it weren't done then, it would have remained undone for another 10, 20, 50 years. He did it because it was the right thing to do by the American people, and politics be damned.

Mark my words. In about a decade's time (at best two), Republicans running for office will try to tell the American people that the Affordable Care Act was their idea all along. It will be that politically toxic to try to screw with Obamacare. But the Republicans are hoping, praying, and voting like there's no tomorrow to try to make sure that day never comes. But that day is fast approaching.

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