I was intrigued by a suggestion that we should stop using the term "ObamaCare" and insert the names of beneficiaries. I would choose to say Elijahcare, for my great nephew who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3, when his baby sister was just 7 months old. The prognosis is good but the treatment long and brutal. I can't imagine the additional stress if his parents were also plagued by caps in their insurance threatening personal bankruptcy. Thank you, ACA, for preventing one tragedy from creating another one.
I would have liked to have had Corycare when my daughter was 26 years old, between graduate programs and uninsured. I held my breath praying that she wouldn't be in an automobile accident or hurt as she traveled extensively. I can imagine the peace of mind of parents whose children are now covered by the ACA provisions that allow them to stay on their parents' plans.
And every day I appreciate the importance of Mommycare. For mothers, 2014 is a very significant date. Thanks to the ACA, pregnancy will no longer be considered a pre-existing condition. Childbirth is one of the most memorable and culturally significant times in a person's life. How many families have faced this momentous occasion without the appropriate prenatal care or worrying about medical bills because the insurance they had didn't cover preexisting conditions or include maternity benefits, or because their employer didn't offer insurance and they couldn't purchase it on their own? Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) successfully advocated for the inclusion of women in Pennsylvania's high-risk pools that were established by the ACA for individuals with pre-existing conditions. It is astounding to think that, currently in Pennsylvania, maternity and newborn care is not required to be included in all health plans. MCC has also helped to introduce legislation known as the Insuring Motherhood Bill (SB 1063, HB 1957), which would ensure that all health benefits cover maternity in Pennsylvania until the ACA takes effect in 2014.
In support of Mommycare, MCC is also seeking equitable Medical Assistance reimbursements for Certified Nurse Midwives and Birth Centers. And we are working with our coalition partners - Raising Women's Voices for the Health Care We Need and the Pennsylvania Health Access Network - on a strategic-advocacy agenda that is inclusive of women's specific health needs.
Finally, there is the critical need for Babycare - the benefits and services that our babies need for a healthy start in life. The ACA provisions include workplace protections for breastfeeding, home-visiting programs for families and behavioral health treatment. According to Marian Wright Edelman, of the Children's Defense Fund, "The ACA protects and strengthens Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program [CHIP], which have been lifelines to millions of children and their families especially in the current recession . . . Preventive-health services like the multiple well-child visits children need to get immunizations and screens for developmental progress are now completely free for those covered, and more than 14 million children have already benefited."
It is said that a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. We need full implementation of the ACA and more to reduce health disparities and help every baby get off to a healthy start.
We've just begun.
JoAnne Fischer is a community activist and nationally recognized advocate for women, children, and families. She is executive director of the Maternity Care Coalition ( www.maternitycarecoalition.org), a statewide maternal and child health organization that has provided outreach and family-support services to more than 80,000 pregnant women and parents of infants in southeastern Pennsylvania.