Today is a significant day in the quest for access to health care for all Americans. While it is the day when the first of several insurance reforms take effect at the federal level, we are also seeing the immediate impact of Governor Christie’s mean-spirited veto of women’s health care.
On the national scene, several provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect including forbidding denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions in children (unfortunately the same reform does not go into effect for adults for a few more years), elimination of lifetime coverage limits so that families can cope with catastrophic illness with one less thing to worry about, a common-sense approach to inadvertent errors on insurance applications to avert frivolous policy cancellation at the time patients are most vulnerable, coverage of children on parents’ policy until age 26 which is a must in today’s challenging job environment, and an emphasis on preventative medicine which will drive down costs. Other provisions are phased in through 2014. While not as good as a single-payer not-for-profit insurance approach, we should celebrate this small victory in today’s toxic political environment.
Meanwhile, here in New Jersey, several women’s health clinics have announced their closing or reduction in hours because our governor would rather balance the budget on the backs of the poor and middle class than tax millionaires. The $7.5 million for health care that he vetoed is a pittance in the $29 billion state budget and much less than the impact of the tax cut for the very wealthy. Maybe if instead of flying to Chicago and congratulating himself on Oprah, the governor should scrub the budget, reconsider the breaks for the wealthy, and solve this problem. While Governor Christie touts his “right-to-life” credentials, I wonder how many lives will be lost and families destroyed due to these senseless actions.