Thank you Senators Murray, Stabenow, Gillenbrand, Hirono, and Klobachar –my fellow moms and fellow advocates of all our moms and babies. And Happy Mother’s Day to all of you – and all moms, moms-to-be, and hopeful moms, as well as all who love them.
Becoming a mom, as any of us who’ve made the incredible journey know, is one of life’s most awesome experiences. Intensely joyful, often challenging, completely transformative.
And, without the proper health care – it can also be unnecessarily dangerous for mother and baby, resulting in costly and sometimes devastating complications, from gestational diabetes and preeclampsia to stillbirth and preterm delivery, even maternal death – always notably higher in states where prenatal care is harder for moms to find and afford, thanks….or no thanks…to a lack of Medicaid expansion.
Healthy futures start with healthy beginnings – and that starts with preconception, prenatal, delivery, postpartum, and newborn care for every mom and every baby. It starts with a healthy woman being able to plan a healthy pregnancy, thanks to contraception coverage, and receive the care she needs during that timely pregnancy to nurture and safely deliver a healthy baby. Every mom’s greatest gift.
Did you know – and trust me, few did before the House passed a law that could reinstate this unthinkable practice – that before the ACA, pregnancy was considered a preexisting condition? That reliable birth control wasn’t reliably affordable – resulting in more unplanned pregnancies? That pregnancy and postpartum depression and mood disorders – which affect upwards of 100% of expecting and new moms, with often devastating consequences for both mother and child – were typically undiagnosed and untreated, because they weren’t covered by insurance?
For me, as a mom and as a grandmother, it’s unconscionable to think of maternity care as anything but an essential health benefit, probably the most essential of health benefits – to think of a mom going without regular prenatal care simply because she can’t afford it, as many used to and still sometimes do. Not seeking care until it’s too late. Using the ER as a last resort instead visiting a doctor or midwife for vital monthly prenatal checkups. Waiting until complications have taken a tragic toll. But that’s exactly what the AHCA might do. Under this reprehensible bill, states could opt out requiring maternity care as an essential health benefit, essentially imposing a pregnancy tax – a healthy baby surcharge -- of an estimated $17,000. Women even thinking about getting pregnant would be forced to pay more, too. Medicaid, which currently pays for about 50% of births in the US, will be slashed, potentially depriving hundreds of thousands of moms the prenatal care, safe deliveries, and newborn care they and their little ones deserve. Lifetime caps could be put back on employer based coverage – resulting in astronomic cost for families who experience a complicated birth or a baby with birth related disabilities.
Not feeling especially compassionate – more concerned about the bottom health care line? Here’s a reality check: Planned, healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies – or those in which complications are caught and treated early –don’t come cheap. But as the ultimate in preventive care, preventing a lifetime of costly care (from NICU care to long-term care for disabilites, from type 2 diabetes to future hypertension and beyond), it’s the ultimate in cost effectiveness, too. For the fiscally afraid, do the math: you’ll save billions later by providing care for expecting moms now. Besides, let’s face it, the cost of a healthy baby: priceless.
I always say that motherhood is the ultimate sisterhood. We are our sister’s keeper, and we all share a collective responsibility for her health and well being and the health and well being of her baby.
That’s not a partisan issue – there are no red moms or blue moms, no red babies or blue babies -- that’s a fundamental human issue. And comprehensive, quality, affordable preconception, prenatal, postpartum, and newborn care for every mom and every baby is a fundamental human right. As members of the same human family – not as members of political teams in a political game -- it’s up to us to fulfill it, without exception. And by the way, believing in life should be a lifetime commitment.
This Mother’s Day and every day, let’s put moms and babies where they belong – first.
Join us in raising our mom and dad voices – to speak up for every mom and every baby and ensure them the care they deserve. Let’s protect their care. Let’s reject the AHCA and improve the ACA. Like our future depends on it –because it does.
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5/13/2017 This Mother’s Day, We Must Acknowledge The Negative Impacts Of The AHCA
9/15/2017 Raising awareness about maternal health worldwide on National Bump Day
4/25/2018 Why Supporting Our Troops Means Supporting Their Families
6/23/2016 If Motherhood Is The Ultimate Sisterhood – Then Our Sisters Are At Risk