Breast Cancer Action (BCAction) recognizes healthcare is a human right. As the independent patient-centered watchdog of the breast cancer movement, we have always been, and continue to be, committed to universal access to quality healthcare for all people living in the United States.
We join women’s health activists across the country in celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling today to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). For women and their families, and in particular women of color, the ACA offers measurable gains in improving healthcare and expanding access to healthcare services. Important wins for women living with and at risk of breast cancer include eliminating unfair policy cancellations if we get sick (including a breast cancer diagnosis), ending annual and lifetime limits of coverage, ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions (including breast cancer), and ensuring that women won’t pay more for the same coverage as men. The ACA also focuses increased attention on preventive services and provides pathway to expand insurance to more women and families.
These gains matter for women and their families, and we applaud leaders in the women’s health movement including National Women’s Health Network who are working to ensure the ACA is implemented in woman-centered ways.
Despite today’s victory and these tangible gains, the Affordable Care Act offers us only incremental progress and remains an industry-centered solution. The ACA moves us forward but doesn’t fully achieve the ultimate goal of high quality, affordable, comprehensive, healthcare for all.
Universal, single payer healthcare is the only solution that will fundamentally shift the focus of our healthcare system from industry-dominated to a primary focus on patient needs and care. A single payer plan would help redirect the profit-driven focus of our current health system to patient health. It would enable a reduction of excessive profits on prescription drugs and instead focus the drug industry and biotech research on new treatments that are more effective, less toxic, and cost less.
The incremental progress of the ACA in addressing racial, economic, and gender inequities, must also be balanced with the recognition that our health is about more than just access to healthcare. Even after expanding access to healthcare for communities of color, who bear a disproportionate physical and financial burden of our broken healthcare system, we must also address the social determinants of health to once and for all eliminate persistent health inequities.
Millions of women and their families recognize the importance of today’s Supreme Court ruling because they tangibly benefit from the ACA and the work of women’s health activists. For these individuals and communities there can be no question that imperfect healthcare is better than no healthcare.
Today’s ruling gives us reason to hope and gains to celebrate, without changing the fact that much works remains to be done on the implementation of the ACA. Nor does it mean we will ever set our sights lower than high quality universal healthcare for everyone.
We applaud today’s decision and remain the uncompromising, truth-telling voice for women’s health – we won’t stop now.