If you hang out on the blog, you know that I don't often get political. But if you hang out on the blog, you know that as a woman and mother there are a few issues that really hit home for me. As a mother of three young girls and one young boy, and having been a young adult that used the services of Planned Parenthood in high school and college, what if Planned Parenthood didn’t exist? I'm sure my life would be different.
This post is made possible with support from the Mission List. All opinions are my own.
My family wasn't wealthy, but my parents had jobs and insurance. But that insurance didn't have great birth control coverage because my mom taught at a Catholic School. In high school, my periods were horrendous. I had endometriosis and horrifically painful periods. I was put on birth control in high school to help with that and the periodic ovarian cysts that I got. I used Planned Parenthood's services through my young adult days. Without Planned Parenthood, those services would have been prohibitively expensive for us and for me when I got older.
There are four groups of people that would be disproportionately hurt by “defunding” Planned Parenthood. Growing up, I fell into two of those four groups: those in rural areas and with low incomes. The other two groups are people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.
H.R.1628 – American Health Care Act of 2017 (theAmerican Health Care Act or AHCA) is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation for numerous reasons. Pressure the Senate to vote against the AHCA and the “defunding” of Planned Parenthood. I know it's hard to discern in the media what defunding Planned Parenthood actually means and sometimes fact checking politicians can be challenging, but it has to be done.
H.R.1628 – American Health Care Act of 2017:
- Blocks low-income patients from receiving health care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Every year, 2.5 million women, men, and young people rely on Planned Parenthood for essential health care services, like birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings. Many of these people, particularly those in rural areas and medically underserved areas, will have nowhere else to turn to for care if Planned Parenthood health centers are forced to close their doors. Women should be able to choose their health care provider, the same as politicians in Washington, DC, and the same as those of us in larger urban areas.
- Eliminates protections for the millions with pre-existing conditions. By removing the community rating provision, insurers would be allowed to once again charge people with pre-existing conditions an exorbitant amount for coverage or choose not to cover them at all. The community rating provision prohibits people from being charged more based on health status, gender, health status, occupation, and age. I personally, as well as many of my family and friends, have pre-existing conditions.
- Discriminates against women. Despite the fact that the proposal claims to maintain the current prohibition on gender rating, it still allows insurers to once again discriminate against women. Eliminating the community rating provision disproportionately affects women—insurers can claim having given birth, having had a C-section, or having been a survivor of domestic violence is a so-called pre-existing condition. For example, a woman who had breast cancer could be charged a premium surcharge of more than $28,000 per year for coverage, and a woman who was previously pregnant could face an additional surcharge of more than $17,000 per year for coverage.
- Eliminates maternity coverage, newborn care and other Essential Health Benefits (EHB) coverage standards. The bill guts the Essential Health Benefits provision, which requires the majority of health plans to cover services like maternity and newborn care, mental health services, and prescription drugs. Approximately 13 million women who gained access to maternity coverage under the ACA stand to lose their coverage. Women also benefit from the EHB in other ways; for example, women are more likely to need prescription drugs to manage their health care needs, developmental health needs, and require lab services to diagnose autoimmune disorders. This is a direct attack on women of all ages since women disproportionately rely on every one of the EHB standards—not just maternity coverage.
- Forces new mothers with Medicaid coverage to find work shortly after giving birth. The bill gives states the option to impose work requirements as a condition of obtaining Medicaid coverage. It also gives states the ability to revoke Medicaid from new mothers if they don’t find work within 60 days of giving birth. Work requirements are generally unnecessary and harmful, as nearly 60 percent of Medicaid enrollees who can work do, and if they don’t work it’s as a result of a major impediment. Work requirements disproportionately impact women as they account for 62 percent of Medicaid enrollees who are not working. Work requirements for new mothers are especially harmful.
- Kicks millions of women and men off their insurance. The CBO reports that 24 million people will lose coverage over the next 10 years, 14 million of which will lose Medicaid coverage due to the bill's measures to kick people off of Medicaid.
- Ends Medicaid expansion. The AHCA will effectively end the Medicaid expansion, which has provided coverage to at least 11 million people, starting January 1, 2018, and will result in women, disproportionately women of color, losing critical access to care. Approximately 20 percent of women of reproductive age rely on Medicaid to access no-cost, critical reproductive health care such as birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and maternity care.
- Guts the Medicaid program. The AHCA provides states the option to receive federal payments in the form of a block grant or per capita cap, both of which will slash a number of federal support states receive today and will force states to either come up with extra money or make difficult decisions about which services, benefits, or eligibility groups to cut. Reduced federal funds for state Medicaid programs will disproportionately harm women — women of color, in particular. For example, to save money, states may choose to limit coverage of prenatal visits and family planning services, or states may cut people from their programs.
- Imposing Additional Costs on Women. The AHCA will require people to pay more for less coverage by repealing the existing cost-sharing subsidies that assist with copays and deductibles and replacing the ACA-created tax credits, which fluctuate by need, with less generous tax credits for low- and middle-income individuals. This will disproportionately impact women given the inequities in earnings for women, and exacerbate health care disparities, given insured people of color already report less confidence in being able to afford care.
- Reduces women’s access to no-copay birth control. While the bill does not specifically repeal the no-copay birth control benefit, the fact that millions of women will lose coverage means they will no longer have access to no-copay birth control. Under the ACA, more than 55 million women gained access to no-copay birth control in the private insurance market, and approximately 16.7 million women benefit from Medicaid coverage, which also covers birth control at no cost. Paying out-of-pocket for birth control pills can cost a woman up to $600 per year, which is simply unaffordable for many young women and people with low incomes. A recent poll found that 33 percent of women could not afford to pay more than $10 for birth control.
- Creates a nationwide ban on abortion coverage. The AHCA will coerce insurance plans to drop coverage of abortion because it will prohibit individuals from using their federal financial help to purchase a plan on or off the ACA Marketplace that covers abortion. At least 870,000 women will lose access to ACA Marketplace insurance plans that cover their full reproductive health care needs, including abortion, and millions more could lose access to abortion coverage in other plans given this provision extends outside of the Marketplace. Insurance plans, when not barred by state law, typically cover abortion. Women, no matter how much money they make or how they get health insurance—should be able to able to access the full-range of reproductive health care, including abortion, and make their own decisions about pregnancy based on their own unique circumstances.