Rep. Speier: ‘Women Will Attain The Position of First Class Citizens’ Under Obamacare

By Patrick Burke | March 20, 2012 | 8:10 PM EDT

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) (AP Photo)

( – In terms of health care, women will become “first-class citizens” as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, according to Rep.  Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

“American women have been second-class citizens when it comes to health care. In fact, women pay a billion dollars more per year for health care than do men,” said Speier during a press conference on Tuesday to highlight the benefits provided to women by the ACA, which was signed into law in March 2010.

“But with the passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, starting in 2014, no longer will women be second-class citizens,” she said. “We will attain the position of first-class citizens in this country because no longer can there be gender discrimination in the providing of health care.”

Speier and several other Democratic congresswomen held the press conference to discuss the benefits enjoyed by women under Obamacare. While the health care reform was signed into law in 2010, many of its more sweeping changes to the health care system in the country do not go into full effect until 2014.

“This is the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act -- as longtime advocates for safer and more secure health care for American families, we are so pleased to see what it has done already, and as promised its benefits have already saved lives,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

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Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Col.), in her remarks, criticized Republican lawmakers for trying to pass current legislation that in her view runs counter to the interests of women’s health.

“This Congress has put forth some of the worst attacks on women’s health care that any of us have seen in our lifetime,” said DeGette. “In fact, the level of these attacks on women’s health that we’ve seen make a lot of us wonder whether we’re in the Dark Ages or in fact whether we’re in the 21st century.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) (AP Photo)

Some of the congresswomen cited the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring all health insurance companies to provide coverage for sterilization, contraceptives,  and abortion-inducing drugs free of charge in their remarks about the importance of access to preventive services.

“Fortunately, this summer women will have coverage for more comprehensive women’s preventive services without cost sharing, including birth control as part of their basic coverage,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). “And these coverages will not only help women manage their health and their lives better, they will help all American families.”

“And this benefit -- that of preventive health care services that is a full range of areas is probably the greatest progress we’ve made for women’s health in decades,” she said.

Late on Friday, March 16, the HHS announced that, under the Affordable Care Act, all college student health insurance plans will be required to provide free coverage for sterilization surgery for women as well as other “preventive services,” including drugs that induce abortion.

The "preventive services" guidelines issued by HHS, say that new health insurance plans in the United States must “provide coverage without cost-sharing" that includes: “All Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.”

Women who are of college age but are not college or university students can also receive free coverage of the same services through their health insurance whether it is provided by their employer, the government or their parents.

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