Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Representative Kristine Howard and Senator Tim Kearney to discuss the importance of preserving the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to protect women’s health care, now more than ever amid COVID-19 and the Supreme Court vacancy.
Under the ACA, a wide variety of preventive care is available to women free of charge, including annual mammograms and well-woman visits, birth control and breastfeeding support. Additionally, women are protected from being charged more simply for being women, or for becoming pregnant.
“My administration has consistently pushed for improvements in women’s health care,” Gov. Wolf said. “Those improvements support the gains in free preventive care and the protections for pre-existing conditions that the ACA provides. That gives women needed control over their own health, but that control – and access to affordable coverage for many Pennsylvanians – is in jeopardy right now.”
Also, amid COVID, health care inequities have been magnified and women of color, who have felt those inequities long before the pandemic, have much to lose if the ACA is dismantled or repealed. Health outcomes for women of color are worse than those for white women. They are more likely to be hospitalized due to asthma, diabetes, and COPD compared to white women, and more likely to give birth to a stillborn baby than white women. In 2018, black women were five times more likely to be living with chronic Hepatitis B compared to white women.
The Wolf Administration has steadfastly worked to improve access to quality health care and health care coverage for all women, despite efforts by the federal government to undermine women’s rights to health care.
When a group of Republican Attorneys General brought a suit challenging the constitutionality of the ACA, President Trump made the highly unusual decision to have the Department of Justice fight to invalidate a federal law. To have the federal government seek to deprive Americans of health care coverage is deeply concerning at any time, but especially in the midst of a pandemic.
“A radical change to the United States Supreme Court could lead to the end of the Affordable Care Act and the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade,” said Rep. Howard. “We have a responsibility to protect the thousands of Pennsylvanians who would lose their health care and the women who would lose their right to make their own choices in matters of reproductive health.”
“The Trump Administration is in federal court trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act and rip away health coverage from millions of people,” Sen. Kearney said. “More than 5 million people in Pennsylvania who have pre-existing conditions will see their premiums increase dramatically or lose their coverage altogether. Especially during a global pandemic, we should be strengthening the ACA to reduce costs and expand coverage. We need to fight back because lives hang in the balance.”
The governor was also joined by Kathryn Kolbert, a reproductive rights attorney who argued Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 Supreme Court case widely credited with saving Roe v. Wade.
“The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court will place in jeopardy both the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade, denying millions of American women access to safe and affordable health care,” said Kolbert. “Senator Toomey, the women of Pennsylvania will remember if you forsake women’s health in this political power grab. Let the voters decide whether President Trump or President Biden will select the next Supreme Court Justice.”
“All women deserve more access to better health care, not more problems created by politicians,” said Gov. Wolf. “There is no role for government to step between a woman and her doctor for any health care decision. I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that Pennsylvania women retain access to affordable, quality health care.”