FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
One Historic Vote, One Big Problem to Fix
Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, DC — November 8, 2009 — “
Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives brought the nation one huge step closer to giving all Americans access to high quality, affordable care. But the outrageous restriction on abortion coverage added at the eleventh hour would undermine the promise of reform and endanger women’s health and lives. It simply must not stand.
This bill’s greatest strengths include ending gender rating, limiting age rating and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. It is long past time for these disgraceful practices to end. We are pleased that H.R. 3962 would extend these new federal rating rules to all individual and fully insured group markets.
The House bill also covers maternity care, well-woman and well-child visits, and cancer screening — and it includes no-cost language to let states expand access to Medicaid-covered family planning services without a cumbersome waiver process. But the inclusion of the anti-choice Stupak-Pitts amendment utterly taints this bill. Unless that amendment is reversed, the promise of reform will ring hollow for women who will lose coverage for essential reproductive health care that we now have.
We applaud the provisions that will help lower-income families with the new obligation to buy health insurance, and support the expansion of the Medicaid national ‘floor’ to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. But more must be done to ensure that affordable coverage is within reach for low- and moderate-income families.
We also fear that Section 309, which allows for the interstate sale of insurance, will undermine the bill’s otherwise strong consumer protections and encourage a race to the bottom as health plans operate out of states with the least restrictive rating and benefit standards. We fear it will lead to a litigation nightmare. We hope this provision will be struck.
We look forward to working with the Senate and President Obama to enact reform that gives us all high quality, affordable, comprehensive health care. This is a historic opportunity that lawmakers must not squander by capitulating to the anti-choice extremists who would deny women coverage for basic reproductive health care.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a non-profit, non-partisan 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.