Throughout our lives – whether as children or adults – our mothers look out for us. They help us take our first steps, send us off for our first day of school, and watch over us as we grow up. When we get a cold, twist an ankle, or have a more serious illness, they are the ones right by our side, taking our temperature, bringing us chicken soup to make sure we feel better, and calling to find out what the doctor said. And Mother’s Day is the perfect time to thank our mothers for all that they have done and continue to do for us every single day.
Just as our mothers care for us, they also deserve to be cared for. I fought for the health reform law so that we could get more affordable health care to more families. As part of that goal, this law also makes long strides to better protect women’s health and make it a priority.
Too often, when women go to the doctor regular exams aren’t covered and they have to pay out of pocket. These expenses add up and have a real impact on families working hard to get by. The health reform law fixes many of these problems by offering women free annual checkups. These visits include crucial preventive services to protect women’s health, such as free mammograms to test for breast cancer, cervical cancer screenings, screenings for high blood pressure and diabetes, prenatal services, and much more. The law allows women to go to an obstetrician/gynecologist without a referral, and they are free to choose their children’s pediatrician.
For too long, the majority of health plans charged women higher premiums than men for the same health benefits, increasing costs on families, individuals, and single mothers. But the health reform law is changing that and making premiums the same across the board.
Health insurance companies often discriminated against those with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. And many insurance companies specifically discriminated against women by treating pregnancy, Cesarean sections, and medical treatment for domestic violence and sexual assault as pre-existing conditions. Because of the health reform law, starting in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. We need to help women and mothers when they need it most, not turn them away.
And just over a week ago, I was incredibly proud to stand with our Governor as he announced that West Virginia will expand Medicaid eligibility – a key piece of the health reform law that is up to each state to approve. This means that 91,500 more West Virginians are expected to get affordable health care, and 67,000 women in West Virginia could be eligible for coverage. These are women and mothers of all ages who too often have to choose between seeing a doctor when they’re sick or putting food on the table for their families. The health reform law means they don’t have to make that awful choice – they can have both, as they deserve.
Mother’s Day reminds us how important our mothers are in our lives and it’s a moment thank and celebrate them, maybe with a handmade card or breakfast in bed. West Virginia’s own Anna Jarvis understood that when she created Mother’s Day to recognize her mother’s lifesaving work to treat Civil War soldiers.
On Mother’s Day this year, I give thanks for mothers across West Virginia making countless sacrifices every day for the families they love – and for the difference I know a strengthened health care system can make in their lives.