National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Condemns Blunt Amendment

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) today condemned a proposal by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would allow any employer or insurer, religiously-affiliated or not, to deny coverage for a broad range of critical health services. The proposal is an amendment (S.AMDT.1520) to the Senate transportation bill (S. 1813) and would dramatically reverse the expansions in health care coverage achieved through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“The Blunt amendment is an extreme proposal that would undermine the very concept of health insurance by creating unequal and unreliable coverage based on an employer’s personal beliefs,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH. “As Latinas, we reject any policy that would make it harder for women to access critical services like maternity care, cervical cancer screening, contraception, and services for survivors of intimate partner violence.”
Under current law, the ACA would require all insurance plans to provide a basic standard of care, including coverage of preventive services without additional copays. The impact of this provision on Latino communities would be profound, particularly given that Latinas face a higher risk of unintended pregnancy, a higher rate of gestational diabetes, and other health disparities that could be decreased by better access to affordable, quality care.
More than half of Latinas ages 18 to 34 report that the cost of prescription birth control has kept them from using it consistently, according to Hart Research Associates. NLIRH research shows that Latinas want the full range of birth control options to be available to them. Birth control use is nearly universal in the United States, including among Catholic Latinas.
“Latinas are disproportionately uninsured and already face multiple barriers in accessing health services, from lack of Spanish-speaking providers to the high cost of care. While the ACA could be transformative in reducing these barriers and improving the health of our communities, the Blunt amendment would diminish that potential by allowing an employer, for example, to deny maternity care to an unmarried woman or HIV screening to a gay or lesbian employee,” González-Rojas added. “Latinas and our families deserve better.”

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