Thursday, December 24, 2009

When Reform Falls Short

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Early this morning, the Senate successfully passed their version of healthcare reform 60-39, making their Christmas deadline despite party divides and a huge DC snowstorm.  The questions on both sides of the debate are: Was the rush worth it?  Does the Bill really make change we need? And as votes keep happening, what action can we take to make a difference?
At Choice USA, we are deeply disappointed with the agreement forged to get Senator Ben Nelson's support for reform.  While it doesn't go as far as Stupak's language in the House, the Senate Bill creates serious obstacles for women's access to abortion, allowing states to opt out of providing coverage.  Where abortions are covered, the Nelson language establishes a "check provision": essentially if you want abortion covered in your insurance you will have to write TWO checks - one for your regular premium and a separate one for your abortion care.  Health plans then must keep these funds separated.
We know that every extra step to get an abortion prevents thousands women from accessing needed reproductive services - that's why the anti-choice groups fight so hard to add barriers.  And insurance companies may be likely to skip covering abortion to avoid the hefty process of segregating funds.  Finally, the agreement also strikes out language guaranteeing pro-choice plans and removes protection for abortion providers. 

We did have some significant wins with the passage of the Senate Bill.  We will officially see the end of pre-existing conditions and gender rating.  The Milkulski Amendment passed, requiring insurers to cover preventative screenings and care at little or no cost to women.

At the same time, the Nelson compromise and the loss of the public option that could have expanded insurance access to 13 million uninsured young people are unacceptable.  Our health cannot and should not be a bargaining chip in the political game of passing reform. We deserve better. 

What can you do?  Remind Congress that they are bargaining with OUR lives.  Call your Senators today to let them know we are worth more than deadlines, dollars and political negotiations  Then call your Reps and tell them that when the Bill makes it back to the House, you won't let them compromise on the backs of women and young people anymore.
We'll keep you updated on what comes next! 

In Solidarity,
Kierra
Choice USA, 1317 F Street NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC 20004

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