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The Health Care Litigation: What Women Could Lose

Yesterday, the United States appealed the Florida district court decision that the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) must be struck down under the Constitution. What do women stand to lose if this decision stands, you ask? A lot. Our new factsheet sets out the stakes of the health care litigation for women and the reasons why the ACA is a constitutional response to a national crisis in the health insurance market that has particularly harmed women. The factsheet explains that Congress had the power to pass the ACA just like it has had the power to pass other laws that have removed discriminatory barriers to women’s participation in the economy, like Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. (If you really want to delve into our legal arguments, check out our brief, filed on Monday in a separate case addressing the same legal question.)

The good news is that last week the Florida court stayed its decision while the case goes up on appeal. This means that the provisions of the law that are already protecting women and families still protect you. For example, sex discrimination in health care programs receiving federal funding continues to be illegal, breastfeeding mothers continue to enjoy new rights to pump at work, people under 26 can still get health care coverage through their parents’ health insurance, insurers still aren’t able to drop your coverage just because you get sick, and children still can’t be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. And by 2014, a host of new guarantees and protections will come into force, ensuring that being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition and expanding women’s access to health insurance. That is, these guarantees and protections will come into force as long as higher courts respect established precedent and recognize that the Constitution permits Congress to take action in the face of a national health care crisis and remove the barriers that have prevented women and others from obtaining affordable health insurance and health care.

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