It is a sad day when the price of reform is undermining access to a basic health service that America’s women need. Those of us who spend our lives working to improve women’s health have been deeply shaken as lawmakers allowed reproductive health services to become a political bargaining chip, and as opponents of choice used reform to advance their extreme agenda. Both the Senate and House bills contain anti-choice provisions that betray the promise of reform for women and would, in practical terms, cost millions of women coverage for basic reproductive health care. This should not stand.
We will work tirelessly to improve the final bill, including by urging conferees to provide more support to the low- and moderate-income families that will now have to purchase coverage.
We must strengthen the final bill by maintaining strong delivery and payment reforms, ensuring greater affordability and meaningful benefits, and guaranteeing effective market reforms that prohibit the discriminatory practices that have put affordable, quality health coverage out of reach for millions of women and families.
We see today’s vote, and the eventual enactment of this bill, as a beginning rather than an end. The true test of reform’s success will depend on whether it delivers on the promise to expand access to high quality, affordable care; dramatically improves quality and care coordination; gives us better value for our health dollars; and puts us on track to get costs under control. We see implementation as key, and making our health care system work for the most vulnerable patients is essential. And we look forward to the day when women’s health is no longer bargained away. Lawmakers’ work will not be done until those goals are achieved. ”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.