This is a great day for our country and for women's health care!
This morning the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama's historic health care reform law. We've been anticipating this day for months and we can finally celebrate. The decision means that millions of women, men and families will have access to basic, preventive health care. Tens of thousands of women and men across our service area who lacked health insurance or adequate health care coverage will now have an opportunity to access to affordable, quality health care.
This is an historic victory for women in particular. Since August 2010, more than 45 million women have already received coverage for preventive health screenings at no cost thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Now millions more will be able to get free screenings in the years to come. Starting in August, just a few weeks from today, birth control will be treated like any other preventive prescription and will be available without co-pays or deductibles. And, under the ACA, women are guaranteed direct access to OB/GYN providers without a referral.
The Medicaid expansion provision, in particular, has the potential to change the health care outcomes for women, men and families in Louisiana and Texas. Millions of low income people in Texas and Louisiana -- and other Southern states-- are relying on state leaders to put their needs above extreme political pressure.
Expanding health care to the neediest makes sense in southern states where health disparities are most severe. Unfortunately, the ruling provides wiggle room for southern states to deny lifesaving care to millions. The ruling eliminates the "hammer" that the federal government usually wields over programs it funds. The ACA provides for 100% funding of Medicaid expansion for the first couple of years, but that hasn't proven to be a persuasive argument for Governors Perry or Jindal. At the end of the day, without a hammer, it is very likely that we will still have to deal with Texas' and Louisiana's refusal to expand Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood knows firsthand how important this law -- and this decision -- is for women and families, because we see the need for affordable care every day. One in five women in America relies on Planned Parenthood. Women who come to our health centers often struggle to decide whether to pay for birth control or pay for textbooks, groceries, or gas for the car. That burden was lightened today because of President Obama's leadership, the members of Congress who voted for the ACA, and the Supreme Court's decision.
Today is a true mission moment for the Planned Parenthood family. We have miles to go before we see the full potential and impact of the Affordable Care Act. But, today, we celebrate!