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Planned Parenthood: Quality Health Care For All Women

Dozens of women in Congress wore suffragist white Tuesday night for President Donald Trump’s first address to a joint session.

You know this had to annoy him, all those dames sticking out in that sea of dark suits, but he stayed on script anyway. That was all he had to do, apparently, to be newly anointed as “presidential” by pundits who just a week ago were filling the airwaves with the sounds of barely suppressed panic.

I understand this new take is mostly a collective sigh of relief — say “presidential” out loud as you exhale and you’ll see what I mean — but I thought we set that bar a little higher.

If managing to avoid rambling about everything from a nonexistent electoral landslide to an imaginary enemy force of journalists is the new definition of “presidential,” it’s only a matter of time before we’re seeing headlines about how the leader of the Free World can turn water into whine. I mean wine.

But maybe I’m just picky.

The House’s Democratic Women’s Working Group came up with the idea to show up wearing white as a reminder of “the ongoing fight to attain equal rights for all women.”

From a statement by the group’s chair, Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel: “We wear white to unite against any attempts by the Trump Administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century, and we will continue to support the advancement of all women. We will not go back.”

Group photos of the smiling women started popping up on social media, which is to right-wingers what dangling a raw rib-eye is to a cougar. Lots of hyperventilating over their refusal to blend in with the scenery. How dare those women draw attention to themselves! Who do they think are, men?

My favorite thread of outrage came from those who accused the women of stooping to “identity politics.”

Tell you what. I’m going to stop identifying as a woman as soon as Republicans stop identifying women for targeted attacks.

Speaking of Planned Parenthood.

Last month, I went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Cleveland for a Pap test. I realize some of you would rather not think about this grandmother’s adventures in gynecology. I hear you. That’s how I feel every time legislators try to interfere with the gynecological endeavors of our grown daughters. Until Republicans stop going after them and countless other women, this is how we’re gonna roll.

Not only do women still need quality health care after we can no longer conceive, but also this freedom from reproduction seems to unleash countless opinions we used to keep to ourselves. I can speak only for myself, of course — and most every postmenopausal woman I know.

I went to Planned Parenthood on the recommendation of my family doctor, who doesn’t do gynecological exams. “You know how professional they are,” she said, “and you can afford it.”

“Walk that talk,” she wanted to say — I could tell by the look on her face — but she’s always been too nice that way.

So off I went to Planned Parenthood, which accepted my insurance and treated me as if I were not invisible. They’re dangerous that way, those people, insisting on seeing us for who we are and filling us with ideas of how we still matter. I can see why right-wingers get alarmed.

That visit was a lot more fun than my recent encounter with a local hospital and my health insurer. Just yesterday, I spent more than a half-hour on hold while an employee on each side debated who was at fault for failing to properly process payment for my mammogram last August.

I sat there listening to the march of classical music on speakerphone and thought about what our president had said, out loud, to a roomful of governors just the day before.

“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” he said, thus revealing what it’s like to be a man who has never had to spend a day of his life worrying about how to pay a medical bill.

I feel better. How about you?

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including ...and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate.

IMAGE: A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen in Vista, California, August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake  

Report: Obamacare Actually Works, Insures Americans

While the right’s been busy denouncing the Affordable Care Act, the health care law has been working and benefiting millions of Americans. According to the Commonwealth Fund’s new tracking survey, the number of uninsured adults decreased from 20 percent in July-September 2013 to 15 percent in April-June 2014, which means that 9.5 million more people became insured during that period.

The survey states that the law is on track to meet the Congressional Budget Office’s projections.

The Affordable Care Act has especially helped young adults. The rate of uninsured people aged 19-34 dropped from 28 percent in July-September 2013 to 18 percent, which is the largest success rate for any age group—5.7 million fewer young adults are now without health insurance.

The percentage of uninsured Latinos also dropped significantly, from 36 percent to 23 percent. Latinos are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to not have health insurance, but they increased their coverage at a better rate than any other group.

African-Americans are the only group whose coverage barely improved; those without health insurance only decreased by 1 percent, from 21 percent to 20 percent. Bloomberg View’s Christopher Flavelle points out that this lack in coverage isn’t down to misinformation about the marketplace, but that 62 percent of black respondents live in states with Republican governors who have rejected federal money to expand Medicaid. In states that didn’t expand Medicaid, 36 percent are still uninsured, a number that only declined by 2 percent from last year. For the law to actually work for everyone, more minorities will need to be able to sign up.

The Affordable Care Act is also helping the poor. The report says that insurance plans “targeted at low- and moderate-income Americans are having their intended effect.” The percentage of uninsured with incomes under 138 percent of the poverty level dropped from 35 percent to 24 percent, while the uninsured rate declined from 32 percent to 22 percent for adults who earn between 138 percent and 250 percent of poverty.

The survey also finds that 68 percent of adults eligible for new health coverage are aware that the marketplace exists, and that 43 percent of those people have visited one, compared to only 24 percent who did in December; 51 percent who visited the website signed up for a plan, and 62 percent would not have been able to afford health care without the Affordable Care Act—60 percent have already filled a prescription or visited a health care provider.

Of the newly insured, 78 percent said they were “very or somewhat satisfied” with their new plans, though only 54 percent said that their plans included all or some of the doctors they wanted; 81 percent said they were “very or somewhat optimistic” that Obamacare will make it easier for them to get the health care they need, and 58 percent said they were better off than before. Even 74 percent of previously uninsured Republicans are satisfied with their plans.

These positive numbers should make it harder for the right to argue that the law is hurting Americans. However, the Obama administration still needs to work on improving public opinion of the law, especially as it gets closer to the midterms. The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows that 51 percent of Americans still oppose the individual mandate.

The Commonwealth Fund surveyed 4,425 people and was conducted from April 9-June 2.

AFP Photo/Karen Bleier

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