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How Affordable Care Act Repeal Threatens Breast Health and What You Can Do

  |   By Elisabeth Dale

As I write this, the Senate is pulling an all-night "vote-a-rama" session. Their goal is to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Their vote lays the groundwork for dismantling the ACA in the coming weeks.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act, with no plan for its replacement, is cruel and foolish. First, it throws the medical insurance marketplace into chaos. Second, it endangers the lives of the most vulnerable and sick people in America. Third, repealing the ACA without a viable alternative increases the uninsured---at a higher rate than before the ACA. Finally, analysts predict it will add $353 billion to the deficit.

And while there's talk of 'repeal and replace,' there aren't any specifics to review. So it's hard to know if ACA's breast-related health provisions will remain, or disappear.

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Here's a quick recap of how the Affordable Care Act addresses breast-related health issues:

Routine mammograms. Right now mammography is lumped into preventative care and not subject to co-pays. These tests don't prevent breast cancer but can detect earlier, more treatable forms of the disease. Women will skip this recommended exam if they can't pay the cost.

Support for breastfeeding and working mothers. Some of the ACA's provisions cover the costs of breast pumps and professional lactation consultants (necessary for moms struggling with babies learning how to latch on). They also require employers to provide access to a break room at work---not just a bathroom stall---in which to pump. How will the loss of these benefits impact breastfeeding rates nationwide? It won't make new motherhood easier for working women. Breastfeeding is best for baby and mom because it lowers her lifetime risk of breast cancer.

Pre-existing conditions. Before the ACA, you could be denied health coverage because of pre-existing conditions, like pregnancy. Repealing the ACA puts anyone with a pre-existing condition in medical jeopardy. Breast cancer patients will no longer be able to pay for expensive drugs or other life-saving treatments. This one type of cancer kills over 40,000 people every year. Who's okay with upping those numbers?

affordable care act

Meet the Faces of ACA

Health insurance isn't cheap, and Congress should work on ways to reduce costs. I'm self-employed and not happy with this year's 35% increase in my premium and even higher deductibles. But I know how vulnerable I'd feel without health insurance or if I couldn't pay for necessary and life-saving treatments. When insurance companies can cancel health benefits in one area, maybe my private policy is next. And my personal cost is trivial in comparison to the devastation facing 30 million people under the Affordable Care Act.

If you're concerned about the future of these, or any health benefits, here's what you can do [SEE UPDATE below]:

Contact your representative and ask them to vote "no" on any repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Not sure how to find him or her? Visit this website, fill in your address, and use the easy pop-up form to write a quick email. You can connect with your U.S. Senator here: 1-866-426-2631. Call today and feel free to share this post if healthcare for everyone is important to you.

Are you worried about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act? Why or why not?

UPDATE 1/13/2017:

A friend called Senator Warren to ask what she can do to help push back against the ACA repeal. Here's what she was told by one of Warren's staffers:

"Senator Warren's staff member told me what would help the most would be to call the five Republican senators who have broken away from the GOP to demand a slow down of the repeal. Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts to stop the train wreck and share your story."
They are:
Senator Bob Corker (TN) - (202) 224-3344
Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) - (202) 224-6665
Senator Rob Portman (OH) - (202) 224-3353
Senator Susan Collins (ME) - (202) 224-2523
Senator Bill Cassidy (LA) - (202) 224-5824

Featured image: iStock Photo

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