Letter: Importance of health insurance to women and families
In North Dakota, we value caring for our people. I am concerned, however, about the health care and health insurance reform proposals being considered by the U.S. Senate. The proposal passed by the House will send us backwards to a time when women and children and men were denied coverage for their health conditions and were not able to access services.
Proposals passed and being considered by Congress would fundamentally change the structure of Medicaid. Women now covered through Medicaid can access health benefits like mammograms and preventive health screenings. About one-third of births in North Dakota are covered by Medicaid. And babies born to women covered with Medicaid are automatically enrolled in the program until their first birthday. This provides uninterrupted coverage for a baby, which is even more important if the baby has special health care needs that are present at birth. With proposed cuts and per-person caps to Medicaid, women and babies are at risk of losing this coverage.
All women risk losing insurance coverage for preventive services like well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening and counseling, and treatment for mental health diagnoses. If proposals are included in the Senate bill that were included in the health care bill that passed the House, women in North Dakota will once again be able to be charged more just for being a woman. The insurance proposals under consideration could once again deny coverage to adults with pre-existing conditions, or make them so expensive as to be unaffordable. For women, this could mean being denied insurance coverage for a history of pregnancy, having had a C-section, being a survivor of breast or cervical cancer, or having received medical treatment for domestic or sexual violence. I encourage Sens. Hoeven and Heitkamp to carefully consider the impact of these health care reforms, and to stand up for women and families by refusing to vote for legislation that would take away important health coverage.
Ingersoll-Johnson lives in Bismarck.