A Mom’s reaction to the ACA

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Andrea Paluso, Executive Director of Family Forward Oregon & The Mother PAC, shares her reaction to yesterday ‘s Supreme Court court ruling and the impact that the Affordable Health Care Act has had — and will continue to have — in improving the health and lives of Americans.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld yesterday.  This is good news for moms and families across the country.  No, it’s not a single-payer system, and yes, there should have been more done to establish a public option, but the ACA represents a real step forward toward the kind of health care system Americans deserve.

The ACA changes a lot, but there are a few key aspects that are particularly important to moms and families. Here are four things we can now do that we couldn’t without the ACA:

We can make career decisions without worrying about pre-existing conditions: Lisa, a mother of two, knows all too well how important it is that children will no longer be denied coverage on their parents’ health insurance due to a pre-existing condition (that part of the law took effect in 2010), and that their parents will no longer be denied as of 2014.  This is important.  When Lisa changed jobs she lost her health insurance and was forced to buy insurance on the independent market, which denied coverage for her  5-year-old for a minor (and resolved) previous health problem.  Parents can now change jobs without worrying about losing insurance for their childrens’ pre-existing conditions.

We can pay equally for health services: Women across the country are relieved that they will no longer be charged more for the same health insurance as men, since the ACA prohibits gender rating of insurance plans.  We’re also relieved about requirements to offer preventive services we need, including reproductive and maternity care.  These are not optional services that should cost more, they are basic components of a comprehensive health plan.

We can express milk at work more easily: Diane, a Portland mother of two, helped pass a local milk expression law in Oregon – one that gave new mothers the time and space they need to express milk for their babies at work.  The ACA, with the help of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, takes this local law national so all new mothers in our country have better support to continue breastfeeding when they return to work.

We can keep insuring our kids: Having the option to insure our children on our own policies until they’re 26 years old is important and more affordable to parents than paying for a separate policy or letting their kids go uninsured. Six million American kids – and their families – are affected by this common-sense age extension.

Of course there is still more to do.  Lots more.  As we move forward, one key step is to have a broader and harder conversation about decoupling health insurance and work.  In a time when people change jobs often and many work part-time, it no longer makes sense to have a care system that isn’t portable and often prevents consistent care by one doctor or practice over time.  And in a high-unemployment environment like this multi-year recession, it doesn’t make sense to have people chained to a job they could afford to retire from because they’re too young to qualify for Medicare and would, therefore, lose their insurance.

We would better honor creativity and ingenuity in the marketplace if more people could keep health insurance coverage for themselves and their families despite leaving or moving around in a more traditional work environment.

The ACA is an important step forward, but let’s continue to advocate for additional reform that builds the health care system we all need – and deserve.

Andrea Paluso
Executive Director, Family Forward Oregon & The Mother PAC

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