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Parts of the new health care law take effect

August 1, 2012 2:20:45 PM PDT
As of Wednesday, the Affordable Health Care Act requires health insurance plans to provide certain benefits to women for free, including contraceptives, though religious institutions get a 1-year grace period.

Over a month after the Supreme Court upheld it, the President's health care law marked another milestone in its implementation.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, a new day for women's health has finally arrived," Health Secretary Katheleen Sebelius said.

The women's preventative health care amendment is now in effect - 8 new provisions under the president's health care law that the Obama administration says will help women get the basic services they need.

"Surveys show that more than half of the women in this country delayed or avoided preventive care because of its cost and that's simply not right," Secretary Sebelius said.

"The top killers of women will now no longer go undetected," Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md, said.

Getting the most attention is the provision that requires private insurance companies to provide women free access to contraception. The Obama administration estimates that about 47 million women will be able to take advantage. But just a tiny fraction will be able to do so because of complicated grandfather clauses for many large employer insurance plans.

Earlier this year, the birth control provision sparked major controversy. Religious organizations protested that they shouldn't have to comply. After weeks of backlash the White House amended the rule to provide exemptions.

"No religious institution, no university has to provide contraceptive services or -- and the President's position was very clearly that there needed to be that respect for religious liberty," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

As Democrats touted the benefits of these new provisions, Senate Republicans kept up their drumbeat to repeal the law.

"I think it would be appropriate to have a vote on the repeal of Obamacare," Sen Mitch McConnell said.

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