The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) By: Divya Mohan Little

– Please note the below post reflects the views and opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of YNPN Chicago. We encourage your comments and feedback.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as “health care reform” was signed into law a year ago, in March.  This monumental piece of legislation was a long-time coming.  I had a personal investment in the passage of some sort of health reform, because as a woman, the United States health care system had consistently failed in protecting my interests.   For far too long, being a woman was considered a “pre-existing condition” and therefore served as the grounds for insurance companies to raise rates.  The ACA eliminates many of the difficulties women specifically have with finding and keeping affordable insurance, as well as the discriminatory practices used by the insurance industry.

Just a few of the provisions included in the bill that will protect women include:

  • Prohibiting coverage denials for issues such as pregnancy, having had a cesarean section, breast or cervical cancer or being a survivor of domestic or sexual violence.
  • Banning gender rating for individuals and small businesses purchasing health insurance coverage.  (Gender rating allows insurers to charge women more than men for their health insurance)
  •  Ensuring that insurance covers many of the benefits women need, including maternity and newborn care, mental health, prescription drug coverage (including birth control), and preventive and wellness services.
  • Expanding Medicaid coverage to more women –  under this expansion, up to 154,300 uninsured women in Illinois will be newly eligible for Medicaid coverage

I currently work for the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition – our organization, joined with many other social services agencies and individuals at the federal, state, and local level to advocate tirelessly for the passage of the ACA.  While we may not have achieved all of our policy goals, it was such a gratifying experience to work with such powerful advocates, many of whom were women (this is the nonprofit sector, after all), to fix a broken system.

It’s precisely this kind of victory that gets me up in the morning.

Additional Resources:
http://www.ilmaternal.org/healthcarereform.html
http://www.familiesusa.org/health-reform-central/

Divya Mohan Little joined Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (IMCHC) in September 2009 as the Project Director for the Coalition for School Health Centers.  In her role, Divya supports the network of school health center providers and advocates in Illinois, provides resource development support, and serves as the liaison to partner organizations, including the Illinois Department of Human Services.  Prior to moving to Chicago, Divya worked for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care where she was responsible for the website, field communications, organizational and convention marketing, social media, branding, annual report content, and press. She came to IMCHC with over seven years of non-profit and communications experience, including positions at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Epoch Communications, which also specialized in historic preservation. Divya received her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Journalism from Washington & Lee University and her Master of Arts in Communication from George Mason University.

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