Progress, people. We're getting there.
Thank you for your continued support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), landmark legislation that guarantees quality, affordable coverage for millions of Americans. This summer has marked several significant events in the implementation of this historic law. As you may recall, on June 28 of this year the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the ACA, and starting this August a new wave of critically important benefits begin to take effect for many women in Iowa and across the country.
Beginning August 1, millions of women will be able to receive additional preventive services from their doctor without cost-sharing, co-pays, or deductibles. Thanks to the ACA, 611,000 men and women in Iowa with private health insurance have already received free coverage for recommended preventive services, like vaccinations, cancer screenings, and cholesterol screenings. Now, for women with health plans that begin on or are renewed after August 1, the ACA expands the list of free preventive services to include:
- Well-woman visits, or annual checkups to obtain recommended preventive services;
- Gestational diabetes screening;
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, sexually transmitted infection (STIs) counseling
- HIV screening and counseling;
- Contraception and contraception counseling;
- Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
- Domestic violence screening and counseling.
When their health plans renew, roughly 47 million women across the country, including 519,908 women in Iowa, will be eligible for these free benefits, which are recommended by the non-partisan Institute of Medicine. I firmly believe that preventing disease before it starts, rather than treating it after the fact, is critical to saving lives and to reducing costs in our health care system. Yet a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund found that in 2010 43 percent of women in the U.S. reported that they were forced to skip recommended care, or failed to fill a prescription, because of costs. Making it more affordable to stay healthy is one of the reasons I fought so hard to include free preventive care provisions in the ACA.
Let me be clear that despite some critics' misleading claims, the law does not mandate that women use contraception, nor does it force employers to dispense it. Instead, it gives women affordable access to birth control if they decide that it is right for themselves and their family. Further, President Obama has issued a sensible compromise that does not require religious organizations that object to contraception to pay directly for this coverage. Instead, the compromise enables women who receive health coverage through religiously-affiliated non-profit employers to seek contraceptive coverage directly from their insurance company, free of charge. This guarantees that women will have access to vital preventive care and respects the beliefs of religiously-affiliated employers.
The health insurance reform law ensures that women - not insurance companies - are in control of their health care. Yet despite the millions of women benefiting from the ACA, members of the Senate minority party continue to attempt to repeal the law and eliminate its consumer protections that now stand between ordinary Americans and insurance company abuses. I refuse to allow our country to be dragged backwards to a time when insurance companies called the shots and Iowans were forced to watch their premiums skyrocket while their coverage dwindled. The ACA turns the tide for women and makes it easier for them to access the comprehensive, affordable coverage they need to stay healthy. Rest assured I will continue to fight to protect access to comprehensive health care for all Americans-including millions of women-as we continue to implement this law.
To see a video of me speaking about these important new preventive benefits for women, please take a moment to visit my website: http://www.harkin.senate.gov/video_HealthReform.cfm. In addition, please visit http://www.healthcare.gov for additional information about the benefits of the ACA for all Americans. Feel free to contact my office again about any issue that concerns you.
United States Senator
United States Senator