February 20, 2015 — Read the week's best commentaries from bloggers at RH Reality Check, "ThinkProgress" and more.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: "Corporate Health-Care Giant Says Affordable Care Act Benefits Women," Emily Crockett, RH Reality Check: Women who purchase coverage through the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) health insurance marketplaces "are better able to access needed diagnostic care and treatments than uninsured women, according to a brief submitted by the Hospital Corporation of America" in the Supreme Court case King v. Burwell, Crockett writes. According to Crockett, the case "hinges on what Congress intended when it wrote" the ACA to determine the legality of tax credits given to U.S. residents to purchase coverage through the federal marketplaces. She writes that HCA argues that "[i]f Congress intended to benefit women's health ... it can't possibly have wanted millions of women to go without the essential care they can only afford thanks to the federal" marketplace credits. She notes that the brief provides several examples of how marketplace coverage is benefiting women, including how "women insured through the federal [marketplaces] are able to access ultrasound care to examine a breast lump or abnormal mammogram three times more frequently than uninsured women" and how "[a] staggering 77 percent of HCA's federal [marketplace]-insured oncology patients were women" (Crockett, RH Reality Check, 2/19).
What others are saying about the ACA:
~ "The Obamacare Loophole That May Be Denying Coverage to Pregnant Women," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ADOLESCENT HEALTH: "Teenagers Push Their School To Really Support Safe Sex," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler highlights the efforts of high school students in New Hampshire "to expand access to contraception among sexually active teens" in their push for "a new policy that would make free condoms available in their nurse's office." According to Culp-Ressler, "[m]embers of Hanover High School's student government are preparing to present recent research they conducted on teens' access to condoms -- including a survey of local parents that found more than 80 percent of them support providing free condoms in school -- at an upcoming meeting of district officials." Culp-Ressler notes that "[t]he American Academy of Pediatrics ... officially endorsed the policy" of providing condoms in some schools in 2013. Further, Culp-Ressler notes that the push also comes amid "compelling evidence that giving high schoolers access to contraception really works," such as a 27% decrease over the past decade in New York City's teen pregnancy rate and a 40% drop in Colorado's teen pregnancy rate over the last five years amid programs to expand teenagers' access to contraceptives (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 2/17).
ANTIABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Anti-Choicers: Stop Bullying Women With Bloody Photos," Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon: Williams calls on abortion-rights opponents to "stop resorting to underhanded, manipulative tactics to try to frighten women out of having abortions," such as using "graphic abortion imagery." She highlights "[t]he provocatively named 'Genocide Awareness Project,'" which this week is visiting the University of Central Florida to protest abortion "with a display that includes ... vivid images." According to Williams, these campaigns and similarly "manipulative ... 'informed consent' rules" aim to "sho[w], as graphically as possible, the results of abortion" and "incite a strong reaction -- and sometimes, unfortunately, it works." She notes that while she believes patients should be "prepared before any medical procedure ... that's the job of healthcare providers," not abortion-rights opponents who "bull[y] and intimidat[e]" by "tell[ing] women who support choice that they're selfish and bad and deserve to have graphic, bloody photographs shoved in their faces" (Williams, Salon, 2/17).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Mississippi Asks Roberts Court To Help Close Its Only Abortion Clinic," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "Despite all the reasons the [Supreme] Court should not step into the fight over hospital admitting privileges in Mississippi," the state's appeal of a lower court ruling blocking the law (HB 1390) "might be too much for the Court to resist," Mason Pieklo writes. She explains that Mississippi's appeal essentially asks whether "states are required to keep at least one clinic open ... if the right to an abortion is a federal right" by framing the issue as a "'bright line test' where states 'lose' the power to regulate abortion clinics." According to Mason Pieklo, "[a]nti-choice activists have turned to this kind of through-the-looking glass thinking, in which a hyper-regulatory environment for abortion providers that results in clinic closures like Mississippi is, in their reality, a regulatory environment that is 'dangerously close' to public financing of abortions." She writes that abortion-rights supporters cannot let the situation "stand unchallenged," noting that the Mississippi case ultimately "is not just a constitutional fight between the rights of patients and the power of the state," but "a case that, if anti-abortion activists get their way, will drive reproductive health care in Mississippi back into the shadows" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 2/19).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Is a Mississippi 'Wrongful Death' Bill a Backdoor Abortion Ban?" Robin Marty, Care2.
~ "Michigan Lawmaker Introduces Bills To Restrict Abortion, Fund Anti-Choice Nonprofits," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
CONTRACEPTION: "How To Actually Get Your Free Birth Control," Kara Brown, Jezebel: Brown writes "some women are still paying for their contraceptives," even though the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) "gives [insured] women access to birth control for ... free," largely because of "confusion around how exactly the system works." Brown describes how Time's Susie Poppick, after being faced with either paying a copayment for her contraceptives or switching to generic prescriptions and "haranguing" her insurer, eventually "learned that the law was actually on her side." Poppick wrote about a Department of Labor rule that says a woman can be required to pay copay for a brand name drug if a generic equivalent is available, but that if "'a generic version is not available'" or a woman's physician determines that the generic option is not "'medically appropriate for the patient' ... then a plan or issuer must provide coverage for the brand name drug ... without cost-sharing." Brown explains that "[s]imply" having a physician "call ... the insurance company explaining that a specific medication is necessary can lead to an appeal" and eliminate the copay, adding that those "who should be invested in helping women navigate the system -- primarily insurance companies -- don't seem interested ... until you force their hand" (Brown, Jezebel, 2/18).
PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH: "When Less is More: Every Mom Deserves a Healthy Childbirth, Every Baby a Healthy Start," Debra Ness, National Partnership for Women & Families' blog: Ness, president of the National Partnership, writes about a new guide, called the "Pathway to a Healthy Birth: How to Help Your Hormones Do Their Wonderful Work," that aims to help pregnant women navigate an "over-medicalized maternal care system" by helping them "make choices that will support their health, and the health of their babies, through labor, birth, breastfeeding and bonding." She explains that while "medical interventions can be the best way to keep mothers and babies healthy and safe" in instances "when serious problems arise," in today's maternity care system, interventions that are "unnecessary ... can do more harm than good." Ness notes that the guide shares "scientific explanations about birth hormones and the possible downsides of interventions," as well as "guidance" for making "care choices that support the natural hormonal process." She writes that the guide was released "in conjunction with a major new report that concludes that birth hormones offer important benefits to women and babies, and common maternity interventions can interfere with these benefits" (Ness, National Partnership blog, 2/19).