Victory for Women's Health and for All Americans

Statement by Patricia McGeown, President/CEO, Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood

ALBANY, NY (06/28/2012)(readMedia)-- Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood applauds today's Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The law will provide access to birth control and cancer screenings without co-pays, guaranteed direct access to OB/GYN providers without referrals, and an end to discriminatory practices against women, such as charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for "pre-existing conditions."

At UHPP we are specifically concerned with the ability of women to access affordable, quality reproductive health services and the Affordable Care Act directly addressed critical gaps in health coverage for millions of American women. In 2011, UHPP provided health care services to over 15,000 clients, 39% of whom paid for services out of pocket and 68% of whom had incomes below the federal poverty level. For decades, we have witnessed the negative health outcomes and difficult choices faced by too many women and families because they lacked adequate health insurance coverage for preventive care. Because of today's ruling:

- Millions of women who had no health insurance coverage or who had inadequate coverage will now have access to affordable, quality health care. More than 45 million women have already received coverage for preventive health screenings at no cost since August 2010 thanks to the Affordable Care Act – including mammograms and Pap tests – and millions more will be able to get free screenings in the coming years.

- Here in New York State, according to the Kaiser Foundation, over a million women ages 18-64 were uninsured between 2008 and 2009. Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly half of those women could be eligible for Medicaid in 2014, and another 40 percent may be eligible for federal subsidies to purchase insurance through the state's Health Benefit Exchange.

- 3.1 million young adults have already been able to stay on their parents' insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. In the next year, millions more who would have otherwise lost coverage will continue to be insured under their parets' care.

- Millions of women will have access to birth control without a co-pay starting in August 2012 – protecting their health, saving them money, and giving them control over whether and when to start families. For women, birth control is basic health care and an economic concern. Women spend up to $600 a year on birth control, and this decision means it will now be fully covered. The money women will save on birth control each year is equal to five weeks of groceries for a family of four, nine tanks of gas in a minivan, or one semester of college textbooks.

- Women-for whom reproductive health care is primary care--will continue to be guaranteed direct access to OB/GYN providers without first needing a referral. And they will not live in fear that once again, insurance companies will be able to apply discriminatory practices, such as charging women higher premiums and denying coverage for "pre-existing conditions."

The many health professionals who work at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood know firsthand how important this law – and this decision – is for women and families, because we see the need for affordable health care every day. One in five women in America rely on Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives, and 90% of the services provided by UHPP health centers is preventive (cancer screenings, STD tests, birth control, etc).

We look forward to working with others in New York to develop and establish a consumer friendly Health Care Exchange where newly insured women and men can make informed choices between health care coverage plans. UHPP currently accepts most major health insurances and is equipped to help meet what will be a rising demand for preventive and primary health care services.

This is a great day for women and we must give credit on this occasion to the Obama administration and to our New York State Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as US Representative Paul Tonko who have all been strong advocates for women's health and who worked so hard to pass and defend the Affordable Care Act.