Juana Rosa Cavero was already racked with stress when the organization she had been working for shuttered. Cavero was pregnant when all of a sudden she would lose health care insurance. Not only was she wrought with anxiety of not being employed, but more pressure mounted in an effort to find a way to pay for the reproductive care she needed.
More about her story can be found here.
Cavero was hardly alone. Before the Affordable Care (ACA) was enacted, which allowed states to cover more low-income individuals through an expansion of the Medicaid program, an opportunity California lawmakers took advantage of, large numbers of women in California were uninsured and faced unfathomable choices in trying to protect their health. But because of the ACA, California was able to reduce its uninsured rate by more than half, from 17 percent to 7 percent – the biggest drop of any state in the nation.
Because of that expanded effort to provide vulnerable populations with access to quality care, women now are more than half (54 percent) of the 13.4 million Californians enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal covers more than half of all births in the state and covers 83 percent of the state’s publicly funded family planning services. The expansion of Medi-Cal, moreover, provided health care coverage to more than 1.8 million nonelderly adult women in the state.
This means that women, like Cavero, are not cut off from health care insurance if they become unemployed. Because of California’s actions to embrace the ACA and expand Medicaid, women struggling to survive on low or insufficient incomes are still able to access quality health care coverage to ensure they are healthy. California like other states that have supported the ACA and its Medicaid expansion are showing that they do not believe only the wealthy should be afforded health care in this country. They are standing up for health rights of all individuals, especially women, who have long been discriminated against in a health care system that has largely catered to the needs of the privileged. The ACA, however, is about fundamentally changing the health care system – to insure more people and provide greater consumer protections against discrimination in health care – again something women, communities of color, LGBTQ people have long faced.
California lawmakers in Congress should do everything they can to fight a reckless and callous repeal of the ACA. The law is not only increasingly popular; it is improving health care outcomes as numerous reports have shown
Repeal of the ACA would disproportionally harm women in California and nationwide. The California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom (CCRF), which Cavero now leads, has urged California’s entire congressional delegation to stand against any effort to repeal the ACA or gut Medicaid funding. More than twenty state and national groups working to promote reproductive health and health care rights signed onto the CCRF letter. The letter, in part, notes that if the ACA were repealed, more than 4 million Californians “stand to lose their health care coverage, the California health system would lose tens of billions of federal dollars, consumer protections would be eliminated, and everyone would see increased health care costs.” The coalition’s letter, moreover, notes that according to the “California Department of Health Care Services, by 2027, the state would lose $30.3 billion annually in federal funding.
Repealing the ACA is not about repairing the health care system. It’s an austerity measure aimed at shifting funding from programs that help the vulnerable to pay for tax benefits for the wealthy and corporations. Politicians pushing or supporting this extreme effort should be called out for attacking the nation’s social safety net, to help fund unnecessary and harmful tax breaks.