As a postpartum nurse, I have the great honor to witness the bond of mothers and infants in the first hours after delivery. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I have seen noticeable improvements in babies' health and the moms' readiness to care for their little ones.
Prenatal care is not only essential in preventing complications during child birth but it gives nurses time to teach parents about possible health issues that may arise. Having affordable insurance coverage is critical in providing access to quality healthcare for both mothers and infants.
Before the healthcare law, I saw many babies at risk and needing emergent care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Many of these cases could have been prevented if the parents had health insurance and access to prenatal care.
Now, thanks to the tax credits available through the federal marketplace, more families have health insurance coverage and are getting the care they need. Women are having regular prenatal exams, ultrasounds to track fetal development, and are become better educated about caring for their baby following delivery, including the bond and nutritional benefits of breast feeding. Additionally, providers are catching complications earlier so the pregnant mothers can be monitored and supported with a goal of a healthy full-term baby.
As a registered nurse, I don't want to see those care advances go away. That is why I am joining a group of eleven other SEIU members and supporters to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell. Arguments for the case involve a dispute over whether health insurance premium tax credits through the federal market place are permissible. Some 8 million people could lose their health coverage if the one thing that is making their healthcare affordable enough to buy--the tax credits--are taken away.
The financial assistance the law provides is important to ensuring the health of mothers and their babies. We should be looking for ways to expand access to good prenatal care and support, not less. Taking away the foundation for a mother's ability to care for her child is not what our healthcare system is about and should not be what this country is about either.
Marilyn Ralat Albernas, a member of 1199UHE, has been a registered nurse for the past 10 years in the Mother-Baby unit at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami, FL.