By Susan Sharon
Speaking at a gathering on the steps of Lewiston city hall, Democratic Senate candidate Cynthia Dill said the health care provisions in place today could rival passage of Title IX, the education amendment adopted 40 years ago that revolutionized opportunities for women and girls in college and high school sports. In this case the focus is preventive health care for women.
“Under this new law, women’s preventative health care services such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer and other services are already covered with no cost sharing for new health plans,” Dill said.
New benefits also include screenings for victims of domestic violence, contraceptives and HIV screening and counseling she said. Many of the benefits are provided without deductibles or co-pays which can discourage women and others from seeking preventative treatment. Democratic Senator Margaret Craven of Lewiston called the implementation of the provisions “historic.”
“This is the first time in 50 years that Congress or anybody else have done anything to improve health care in the United States and we have to celebrate it,” said Craven. “And at the state level opponents are fighting the expansion of Medicaid. In 2014 that will insure up to 17 million poor and working class people, a majority of whom will be women.”
The Medicaid expansion would be largely funded by the federal government and administered by the states, although states don’t have to participate. And, in fact, several states including Maine have signaled their desire to opt out. Jim Lysen, executive director of several federally qualified community health centers in the Lewiston area, said it’s important that everyone be able to access services under the ACA, otherwise, he said, the underserved wind up in emergency rooms where their care costs taxpayers even more.
“Even if it hadn’t passed muster with the Supreme Court the genie is out of the bottle with health care,” Lysen said. “People are demanding better quality, patient-centered type of care and the ACA will just help that be delivered that much quicker tothe American public. I think this is important.”
Republicans have vowed to work to repeal the ACA, calling it burdensome and costly. As a Democratic U.S. Senate candiate Dill has vowed to stand with the president on health care reform, something she said sets her apart from her opponents.