ACOG President Applauds Supreme Court Ruling As Victory for Women's Health

June 28, 2012

Washington, DC -- The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) applauds the US Supreme Court’s ruling today that affirms the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). “The Affordable Care Act helps ensure all Americans have access to affordable coverage with important consumer protections and benefits, including comprehensive maternity coverage and well-woman care,” said ACOG President James T. Breeden, MD. “We urge all states to act swiftly to implement these important access and coverage guarantees.”

The ACA ensures, and ACOG supports, insurance reforms that guarantee availability and renewability, prohibit preexisting condition exclusions, and prohibit gender rating—insurance reforms that will work best under an individual mandate. Beginning in 2014, the ACA prohibits new insurance plans from denying women coverage on the basis of pregnancy, previous cesarean delivery, history of domestic violence, or other preexisting medical conditions, protections Dr. Breeden called “landmark improvements in women’s health.” 

The ACA also guarantees women direct access to obstetric and gynecologic care. “My own state of Nevada and 42 other states already allow direct access,” said Dr. Breeden. ACOG advocated vigorously for this new national ob-gyn direct-access standard so that all women in every state will no longer face costly and burdensome delays and denials.

Under the ruling, states have the option to not participate in the expansion of the Medicaid program, a provision of the ACA that would expand coverage to millions of low-income women without care, finally eliminating the requirement that low-income women must be pregnant in order to begin receiving Medicaid coverage. ACOG calls on Congress to work with the states to ensure that all low-income women are guaranteed health insurance coverage.

Access to affordable, meaningful health insurance is critical to women’s health. Women with breast cancer who have no insurance coverage are 30% to 50% more likely to die from the disease. Uninsured women are three times less likely than insured women to be screened for cervical cancer, resulting in a 60% greater risk of being diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer.

Uninsured pregnant women are less likely than insured women to seek prenatal care in the first trimester or to receive regular doctor visits during pregnancy. Maternal mortality is three to four times higher among women with no prenatal care. And uninsured pregnant women have a 31% higher risk of adverse outcomes, including preterm birth and low-birth-weight babies.

ACOG supports the many elements of the ACA that have enormous potential to improve women’s health. It also supports important and necessary changes to the Act, including repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board and inclusion of medical liability reform. “Today’s Supreme Court ruling gives the US Congress the opportunity to act now to improve the ACA to ensure that America’s practicing physicians are able to provide quality health care for all,” said Dr. Breeden.

ACOG is carefully reviewing the Court’s complicated ruling and will soon produce an analysis of its effect on women’s health.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 56,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.


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