Much of the Affordable Care Act won't be fully implemented until 2014, but there are a series of breakthrough dates along the way at which new benefits kick in, helping millions. Today is one of them.
As Rachel explained on the air last night, starting today, insurance companies have to provide preventive care without copays or deductibles, a policy that especially benefits American women, who can now receive everything "from pap smears to detect cervical cancer, to STD screenings, to other kinds of cancer screenings, to gestational diabetes testing if you`re pregnant, to breast feeding supplies if you're a new mom" effectively for free.
And, of course, part of preventive care also means birth control -- a detail that apparently still troubles some folks on the right.
How troubled? This troubled.
A House Republican lawmaker likened the implementation of a new mandate that insurers offer coverage for contraceptive services to Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States.
Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly (R), an ardent opponent of abortion rights, said that today's date would live in infamy alongside those two other historic occasions. Wednesday marked the day on which a controversial new requirement by the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires health insurance companies to cover contraceptive services for women, goes into effect.
"I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that's Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that's the day of the terrorist attack," Kelly said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates."
For the record, there was no indication that Mike Kelly was kidding. In his mind, the day on which contraception is treated as preventive care in this country is, in all seriousness, comparable to 9/11 and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In case anyone's forgotten, contraception access is not an "attack on our religious freedom." First, access to birth control is voluntary. Second, churches and other houses of worship are exempt from coverage requirements. And third, the Obama administration worked out a compromise of religiously-affiliated employers so they wouldn't have to pay directly for contraception as part of their insurance plans.
The comparison to mass murder is obviously absurd, but the underlying policy point isn't any better.
On a related note, President Obama's campaign remains very much on the offensive on reproductive rights, and launched a new interactive map this morning in order to highlight Mitt Romney's endorsers by state who've pushed legislation to restrict women's reproductive rights.
It reinforces the larger perception that Obama's team believes social issues cut their way with the American mainstream.