White House Women's Health Town Hall Answers Your Questions

BlogHer Original Post

Last week, BlogHer asked you about your concerns and questions on the topic of women's health in America, and we took your questions with us to the White House last Thursday for the Women's Health Town Hall. With the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act looming in the background -- a decision is expected sometime in June -- the topics ranged from the financial side of health care to understanding how the law affects various communities.

 Photo Credit: Melissa Ford



Highlights from the Women's Health Town Hall:

Linda Murray from BabyCenter asked, "What do you mean by affordable? Is there a target for affordable?"

Cecelia Muñoz explained that the target is to bring the cost curve in the opposite direction from where it had been heading with rising premiums. "The law was crafted in a way that was focused both on promoting health but also on this notion of the fact that costs were moving in the wrong direction. And just as an economic matter, the goal is to bring them in the other direction."

Stephanie Phillipps from Beccastone.com asked, "What incentives or programs are in the Affordable Care Act to ensure for minority communities actually receive the benefit -- and take advantage -- of the preventative services that are now covered by the act?"

Kathleen Sebelius outlined various ways the act protects minority populations, but she also put out a plea for the public to help in disseminating news of the services out there for all to use. "We really need your help. I would say that's a great question because looking forward to 2014, access is a piece of the puzzle, but it's only an opportunity. It only matters if people actually enroll and engage; if they know what's coming, if they have some time to think about what's good for them and their families."

Kimberley Inez McGuire from the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health asked, "How will the ACA [Affordable Care Act] help LGBTQ Americans?"

Judy Waxman spoke about section 1557 in the Affordable Care Act and answered, "It is a non-discrimination provision that has not existed in the past, and it is built on other civil rights laws, but it ... brings it over to health care.  LGBT is not mentioned directly, but sex is, so there cannot be discrimination on the basis of sex. ... [Sex discrimination] did extend to... there could be no discrimination on the basis of sexual identity or sexual orientation."

And I brought a question from the BlogHer community to the room and asked about the upcoming Supreme Court ruling: What can the Supreme Count undo at this point, and what couldn't be undone if the decision overturns some or all of the Affordable Care Act?

Kathleen Sebelius admitted that if the law were overturned, everything we've gained in the past two years would be immediately undone. "Much of what we described here today would cease to exist. Young adults on their parent's plan would no longer be the law. Insurance companies could go back to rescission policies, could continue to charge women significantly more than men. There would not be assistance or a new market without preexisting health conditions."

You can watch the entire Women's Health Town Hall now:

What are your thoughts on the state of women's health in America? And what questions do you still have about the Affordable Care Act?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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