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Two years on, why we need to protect the Affordable Care Act

Sarah Stoesz

As a trusted health care provider to one in five women, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand how important the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to women and families across the country. It will improve access to affordable, quality health care and it has a multitude of benefits that will help women lead healthier lives. We know that women are often the primary health-care decision maker in the household. Whether it’s the mom taking care of her family, or the young woman who worries about how to pay for her annual well-woman exam, we know that health care is a constant concern. That’s why we need to protect women’s health and protect ACA.

This week marks the 2nd anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and it’s a good opportunity to highlight the long list of new and specific benefits for Minnesotans’ health and for women’s health in particular.

Preventive care

First, it increases access to a wide range of preventive health care by guaranteeing that they are offered without additional co-pays. This means that women will have access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual well-woman exams, birth control, and other preventive health care, without having to pay a costly co-pay. For our patients, most of whom are women who live at or below 50 percent of the federal poverty level and more than half of whom live in rural Minnesota, this means the difference between getting the preventive care they need to stay healthy – and not.

Second, the new health-care law will provide affordable health insurance to millions more individuals nationwide – including 13 million women of reproductive age. This can’t come soon enough for Minnesota’s families. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently reported that, despite the fact that we have come two years since the official end of the recession, the overall percentage of Minnesotans without health insurance did not show any improvement. Once we implement the new law here at home, the nearly 500,000 Minnesotans that were uninsured last year (70,000 of them children) will finally have access to the health care they need.

No denial for ‘pre-existing condition’

Third, ACA will end discriminatory practices against women. No longer will women be charged higher rates for health insurance just because they are women. No longer will women be denied health care coverage because of a “pre-existing condition.” In the past, some health insurers have claimed that pregnancy or being a survivor of domestic violence is a pre-existing condition, but ACA puts a stop to that.

Fourth, ACA expands coverage for young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26. That means if you have just graduated college, but haven’t found a job yet, you still have health insurance. This has already translated into tangible benefits for real people here at home. According to MDH, for the first time in years, young adults in Minnesota saw an increase in insurance coverage in 2011.  They were the only age group in the state to show any improvement in insurance rates – likely due to this provision, which was one of the first pieces of the new law to be put into place.

Opponents working for repeal

One important point not to be lost this week is that anti-women’s-health politicians are trying to take away these benefits, and repeal the new health-care law. Simply put, they want to take a huge step backward for women’s health. If they had their way, more women would be uninsured, medical discrimination against women would be legal again, and women would once again be forced to pay more for health care and get less for their health care dollars than men.

We need to speak out to protect the many benefits in the new health-care law. We need to stand with President Barack Obama in support of ACA. And most importantly, we need send a message to opponents that health care is too important to play politics with.

Sarah Stoesz is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.


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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/23/2012 - 09:22 am.

    SCOTUS will soon make this all irrelevant

    With a conservative estimate of about 100 million women in this country, one in five would be 20 million. But Planned Parenthood’s website claims they only serve 3 million, or 3%, not 20% as you claim. You either flunked math or you’re purposely misrepresenting the facts. Your piece goes downhill from there.

    But it doesn’t really matter. Because when the Supreme Court rules that it’s not the role of the federal government to mandate its citizens buy health insurance, especially when they don’t want or need all that coverage, the entire Obamacare package comes tumbling down because forcing people to participate is the linchpin to all collectivist schemes.

    And when the new republican-run government enables the insurance companies to compete across state lines and to offer policies that people actually want and need, like catastrophic-only insurance, the cost of policies will come down because they won’t be weighted down with coverage for things that people should be paying for out-of-pocket. And for those who can’t afford even the least expensive policies, we have Medicaid in this country.

    I read today that you can get a 30-day supply of birth control at Target for $9. How much is it at Planned Parenthood?

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/23/2012 - 01:58 pm.

      Source, please?

      Preferably from Target. The only $9 birth control I found on Target’s website was a CD by the group named Birth Control for $8.99. I did, however, find dozens upon dozens of conservative blogs making that claim. Oh, and just how many BC options are available? One? Two? Ok. From now on, we’re only covering one kind of medicine for each condition that requires a prescription. Heart problems? No problem! You can get this (one generic drug) for $9. What? That won’t work? Fine. We have this other drug, but you’re paying out of pocket (even though you probably paid for it 100x over with your insurance premiums and copay) for that!

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 03/23/2012 - 02:29 pm.

      At least 13 different formulations

      There are at least 13 different formulations of birth control pill. They are not equivalent. They are not all available for $9 (or $5 or whatever price you’re claiming this week). You cannot simply swap them out.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/23/2012 - 04:10 pm.

        It doesn’t matter what it costs at Target

        It’s free at Planned Parenthood if you’re poor.

        “The federal government provides money to family planning clinics, like Planned Parenthood, so that women who do not have health insurance can get care at reduced rates, or in some cases free, depending on their family income at the time of their visit. Title X allows us to supplement birth control, breast and cervical cancer screening, and other reproductive health services.”

        So with Title X in force, why do you need Obamacare to pay for it?

    • Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 03/24/2012 - 11:55 am.

      Affordable Care Act


      Do take a few minutes and view the non-political, unbiased explanation of the ACA sponsored by the Kaiser Foundation at for a complete understanding of the Affordable Care Act and what it does and will do in the future.


  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 03/23/2012 - 09:50 am.

    What I Can’t Understand

    Is why the AMA and the healthcare industry in general has not yet risen in opposition to the repeal of the A.C.A.

    How is it that they don’t realize that if the Republicans were to successfully repeal the ACA and move forward their own plans wherein only the wealthy would have adequate healthcare and the current system, where hospitals and their staffs are required to treat all patients who arrive in their emergency rooms would be wiped out

    because they will have wiped out funding for such care to the point that it will inevitably bankrupt hospitals everywhere,…

    that the entire medical care industry in the US would shrink massively, with the few doctors and hospitals who serve the wealthy continuing to profit massively while ALL other medical facilities and medical professionals, doctors included, would make far LESS money than is currently the case.

    When our Republican “friends” state that the rise in the cost of medical care (mostly caused by aging baby boomers and advancing technology) is “unsustainable,” they’re saying that the cost of YOU, doctors, nurses, hospitals, attendant staff, and pharmaceutical and med. tech. companies is too high.

    If the Republicans get their way and all those aging baby boomers are left to quietly die in their homes or on the streets, what that will mean, my medically-employed friends (including CEOs), is that YOU will be figuratively on the streets as well.

    The Republican vision for cheaper, and cheaper, and cheaper medical care means you lose your jobs!

    Are you all going to just sit back and allow that to happen?

  3. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 03/24/2012 - 02:00 pm.

    Yes, but Al Gore is fat!

    Sarah’s column is spot on. I can only wonder, as Greg, why those who stand to benefit from the ACA, besides the American people in general, have not come out more in support. This is speculation but I’m thinking a lot of people are mad at Obama (like me) but because he either did too little (as in the ACA which I think should have just expanded medicare to include everybody) or too much (the Republican party who think the health care and health insurance business is working fine, global warming is a hoax, taxes are too high whatever they are, Al Gore is fat and Obama is a Kenyan Socialist). As we get more into the heat of the election debate, I’m hoping we’ll see a lot of campaign ads by the Obama campaign showing clips of Romney explaining how great his individual mandates worked in Massachussetts.

  4. Submitted by rolf westgard on 03/25/2012 - 05:17 am.

    Romney: “take responsibility” & “free riders”

    When you own and operate an automobile, you are required to carry liability insurance. Among other benefits, this assures that you have some responsibility to the family of a breadwinner that you accidentally injure or kill. Mitt Romney explained this need for personal responsibility with medical insurance in the following editorial about Massachusetts health care that he wrote for USA Today:

    “Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn’t have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn’t cost the government a single dollar.”

    Why is it so hard to understand the need for a medical insurance mandate which is included in both Obamacare and Romneycare?

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