PHOTOS: What Are These Signs Talking About Outside The Supreme Court?
Women's Health Care
Women will have birth control and oral contraception covered thanks to new rules from the Affordable Care Act. Beyond simply preventing pregnancy, oral contraception is used for reasons like preventing ovarian cysts and cervical cancer.
Cecile Richard, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said this provision is a “watershed moment. The birth control coverage benefit is one of the most important breakthroughs for women's health care in a generation.”
Breast Cancer Screening
Other women’s health issues covered include contraceptive counseling, well-woman visits, and gestational diabetes screening, which is a screening for women who are 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. HPV DNA testing, STI counseling, and HIV screening and counseling are covered. The ACA will also provide coverage of breastfeeding supplies and counseling and domestic violence screening.
The Individual Mandate
The central tenant of what some conservative Attorneys General argue is unconstitutional about the Affordable Care Act is the so-called individual mandate. Starting in 2016, if you don’t carry insurance, you must pay a $695 fine, per year, or 2.5 percent of your income, whichever is higher. However, as the law is written, there isn’t much the government will do to people who don’t pay it—no criminal action or liens can be imposed.
The idea behind the individual mandate in the ACA is that if everyone participates in health insurance, costs will be kept down. Items in what has become known as the Patients’ Bill of Rights say that insurers cannot deny someone for a preexisting condition and they cannot place annual dollar limits on coverage. A study by the Urban Institute found 98 percent of Americans would either be exempt from the individual mandate or given subsidies to comply with the law.
Without the individual mandate, it would be tougher to find affordable health plans, which could be up to 40 percent higher in price for consumers. There is no Plan B for the Obama administration on what to do is the individual mandate is struck down.
While conservatives have steadfastly opposed the individual mandate during their attempts to derail health care reform, a number of prominent GOP lawmakers endorsed the idea as an alternative to single-payer health care in the 1990s. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, was a strong proponent of the individual mandate.
The only other time the federal government passed an individual mandate was when Congress approved the Militia Act of 1792, signed into law by President George Washington. According to an article on Salon.com, it required every “free able-bodied white male citizen” between the ages of 18 and 45, with a few occupational exceptions, to “provide himself with a good musket or firelock, and a sufficient bayonet.”
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act argue that it drives up the national debt by hundreds of billions of dollars. Yet, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found repealing the ACA would actually increase the national debt by at least $210 billion. The way health care reform is designed, the savings increase as time goes on. In addition, reforms from the ACA are already showing signs that they are driving health care costs down, or at least slowing their growth.
Photos: (top) Campus Progress / Graham White, (bottom three) AP / Charles Dharapak
Tyler Kingkade is a staff writer with Campus Progress. Keep up with him on Twitter @tylerkingkade.
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