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A Change is Gonna Come, and It Finally Has…

Yesterday I had the pleasure of gathering with several women who shared very personal stories about how they have struggled in our current health care system. I also heard a lot about how the new health care law is helping women in so many important ways.

Robyn, a mother of three shared her story about her son, Jax—a delightful cutie who was possibly the best behaved child I have ever seen (not a peep in over an hour!)—who was diagnosed with a genetic disorder. Jax would have likely reached a lifetime limit on health coverage but, thanks to the health care law, Robyn does not have to worry about that. Instead of constantly worrying about her son’s coverage and her family’s financial stability, she can instead enjoy her three beautiful children and continue working at a job she loves.

Another woman, Jeanine, shared her story which was both upsetting and quite funny. A few years ago, before the health care law was passed, she was 6 months pregnant and called her insurance company to see if they covered midwifery services, as she was planning on having a home birth. Her insurance company told her that she did not have maternity coverage—at all. None. They told her she didn’t check a box on her application form (a box she struggled to find for days). They told her she could get maternity coverage—but she would have to wait 10 months. This is where all the women in the room just laughed and laughed. Fortunately for Jeanine, she had a wonderful home birth and was fortunate enough to afford to pay for midwifery services out of pocket. But, the sad fact is that so many women in the individual market literally have nowhere to turn for maternity coverage. The health care law will change that by requiring insurance companies to cover maternity services.

Some say the law is not working or that it should be repealed, but ask Robyn or any of the other women in that room and they will tell you their story: the law is helping them in profound and life-saving ways.

There was another woman in the room—someone who was not there to talk to us, but rather to listen. Secretary Sebelius attended this warm gathering, sitting next to Jax. She listened to each woman’s story and offered kind words of sympathy. She shared their concerns and talked about the ways the law has help and will help women.

Fortunately, help has come to millions of Americans and even more help in on the way.

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Change is going to come

What a pleasure to be with the Secretary, Anna Benyo, representatives from Maryland's consumer advocacy and policy community and the seven brave women who stepped forward to share their stories. We hope this is the start of more women stepping forward to demonstrate that we must implement the Affordable Care Act even as we continue to push to improve it in our own states.

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