"For many years, insurance companies have dealt women an unfair hand based simply on their gender. Insurance companies could routinely deny a mother coverage for having a C-section in the past, or increase a young woman's premiums for being of child-bearing age," said Pingree. "The health care reforms we passed end this process of discrimination. Being a mother is not some kind of illness, but repealing these protections will take us back to the day when insurance companies treated it that way."
According to the letter, which Pingree signed with members of the Democratic Women's Working Group, women face much higher insurance premiums, many don't have maternity coverage, and 1 in 5 women over 50 can't afford a mammogram. Health care reform addresses all these problems by ending the insurance industry's worst practices, including denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and providing wider access to affordable preventative care like mammograms.
Pingree said rolling back basic protections for women isn't the only reason she's fighting against repeal of health care reform.
"Seniors stuck in the donut hole, families bankrupted by illness, and small businesses struggling to provide insurance for their employees simply can't afford to go backward," said Pingree. "But as a mother with two daughters, protecting women's health is especially important to me. The health of our women is the health of our children."
Full text of the letter is below:
Dear Speaker Boehner,
As Members of the Democratic Women's Working Group of the 112th Congress, we are writing to express our strong opposition to any attempts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Repeal of this law would negatively affect all Americans but would have a particularly harmful effect on women. American women were among those who had the most to gain through the passage of the health reform law. To threaten that tremendous progress after less than a year is a mistake. We therefore urge you to think seriously about the ramifications of repealing this historic reform.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's consumer protections for women exemplify the importance of this health reform law and represent some of its most popular and essential provisions. Women who have been denied coverage or charged more because of "pre-existing conditions" including pregnancy, a past C-section, or being a victim of domestic violence can breathe easier knowing that these discriminatory practices will finally be outlawed. No longer will simply having two X-Chromosomes lead to higher premiums or decreased coverage. These common-sense provisions enjoyed broad bipartisan support during the health care reform debates, and we urge you to honor that support by halting your attempts to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The current state of women's and maternal health in this country is deplorable, but the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act puts women--and men--on a path to receiving quality, affordable health care. Repealing this law would be catastrophic; currently, 79 percent of women with individual market policies do not have any maternity coverage, and women can pay up to 48 percent more for their premiums. Many women and children who have insurance are unable to seek the preventive care they need, including services like mammograms and well-child visits, because they cannot afford the co-pays and deductibles. One in five women over age 50 has not had a recent mammogram, partly due to the cost. This is a travesty in a world in which these tests achieve early detection and save so many women's lives.
All of these problems are addressed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the law's provisions represent a huge step forward in women's and maternal health in the U.S. While this alone should be reason enough to abandon plans for repeal, it is also important to mention that such action would result in skyrocketing medical costs, as women would face increased barriers to preventive care that saves money and lives. In our efforts to bring down our country's looming deficits, it is critical to remember that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act actually brings down the deficit $143 billion in the first ten years and $1 trillion over the next two decades.
This historic legislation has been needed for so long, and we have finally begun to correct the injustices that have been committed, time and again, against women when it comes to healthcare. We must honor the sacred, irreplaceable role women play in society by providing them with the support they need to live healthy lives. When a woman's health suffers, the health of the household--either physically or financially--is usually not far behind. And yet without this law, millions of women nationwide would find their physical and financial health in peril. Repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would be a mammoth injustice and a dark mark against how history views the 112th Congress under your leadership. We urge you to seriously consider the ramifications of repeal for the health and economic security of women, and for all Americans.