YWCA Missoula joins with YWCAs across the country this week in lobbying Congress to pass comprehensive health insurance reform that protects women’s health needs, including access to abortion care. We encourage Montanans to join us in calling or e-mailing our senators to advocate for women’s rights in health care reform.
The YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. To us, that mission encompasses universal health care and a woman’s right to decide what’s best for her body, her family and herself.
YWCA Missoula supports much of the current House bill (HR 3962), which passed on Nov. 7. The bill includes such laudable provisions as expanding Medicaid to all individuals under 150 percent of the poverty line; providing help to families and individuals so they can afford health care; allowing young people to be covered by their parent’s insurance until they are age 27; ending the discriminatory practice of denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, which can include c-sections or being a victim of rape or domestic violence; capping out-of-pocket expenses; and creating a competitive public option plan.
According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 180,694 women in Montana are between the ages of 15 and 44, and 21 percent of them are uninsured. Under the House bill, 59 percent of these women would qualify for the expanded Medicaid, and another 35 percent would qualify for federal subsidies to help them purchase insurance.
While much in the House bill is good, we are very concerned about the harmful effects of the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which would prohibit abortion coverage in the newly created insurance exchanges. One of the main promises of health insurance reform is that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. The Stupak-Pitts amendment would break that promise by requiring women seeking abortion coverage through the exchange to seek supplemental coverage. It would also prohibit the public option from covering abortion except in cases of rape, incest or saving the life (not the health) of the mother. Also, women who receive federal subsidies to help them purchase insurance would be prohibited from buying a plan that covers abortion.
As advocates for women’s rights on every level, the YWCA believes health care reform must address, not restrict, women’s health care needs. Women should be able to purchase the health insurance plan that works best for them and their families. Please join us this week in lobbying Congress for meaningful health care reform that respects women’s rights.
Cindy Weese and Caitlin Copple