Obama Administration Affordable Care Act Upheld in Appeals Court
On Tuesday, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). This provision requires that a person purchase minimum health coverage or face a modest monetary penalty beginning in 2011.
The American Center for Law and Justice, founded by Pat Robertson, challenged the provision on grounds that it violates the constitutional rights of those who do not wish to purchase insurance for religious reasons.
Stephanie Cutter, Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor said that the requirement would help diffuse health care costs by distributing the costs more equitably amongst Americans. "People who make a decision to forego health insurance do not opt out of the health care market. Their action is not felt by themselves alone. Instead, when they become ill or injured and cannot pay their bills, their costs are shifted to others. Those costs - $43 billion in 2008 alone - are borne by doctors, hospitals, insured individuals, taxpayers and small businesses throughout the nation."
Currently under the ACA, children under 26 years of age can receive insurance through their parents' coverage, the donut hole for seniors is closing, and certain preventive procedures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and pap smears, no longer require a co-payment or other direct costs. Under the ACA, private insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 will also cover an annual well-woman visit and a variety of specific health screenings and counseling, such as for domestic and interpersonal violence, gestational diabetes, cervical cancer, HIV and STIs, as well as all FDA-approved contraceptives, breastfeeding support, lactation services, and supplies.
President Obama signed the final version of the Affordable Care Act in March. The final law will eventually add coverage for 32 million people, increasing access to family planning and preventive care.
Media Resources: Associated Press 11/8/11; White House Blog 11/8/11
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .