Earlier this week, House Republicans released a new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and this proposal is even worse for women’s health than the previous plan.
This latest attempt to dismantle healthcare would allow states to eliminate the ACA’s requirement that insurers provide Essential Health Benefits, including maternity and newborn care, mental health treatment, prescription drug coverage, access to birth control without co-pays, preventive and wellness visits, chronic disease management, emergency services, and pediatric care, among other critical healthcare services. Women disproportionately rely on these services, meaning that this new provision disproportionately threatens women’s access to care.
Notably, Republicans exempted Members of Congress and their staff from this harmful provision. Republican leadership is now reportedly trying to eliminate the exemption, but only after the provision had been exposed and intensely criticized.
The updated ACA repeal plan—drafted by Republican Tom MacArthur of New Jersey—would also do away with protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Under the ACA, insurers cannot discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by refusing coverage or charging more. Under the Republican plan, however, insurers can charge people with pre-existing conditions—a broad category that can include women who have had a C-section as well as survivors of domestic violence—exorbitant amounts for coverage. That means women will go back to paying more for less coverage.
States would be allowed to create “high-risk pools” for people with expensive medical conditions who cannot afford or access health coverage. This approach has many well-known problems. Numerous states attempted high-risk pools for people who could not access coverage, but these attempts resulted in high prices (with some enrollees paying twice as much as healthy people), inadequate coverage, and left many people—by definition people with serious healthcare needs—without coverage at all.
Older women also continue to be at heightened risk. The new proposal continues to allow insurers to charge older people higher rates than what is currently allowed.
“TrumpCare means higher costs, less coverage, gutting key protections, a crushing age tax, and stealing from Medicare—and Republicans continue to make it even more cruel and costly for America’s families,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Peloisi. “Under the Republican plan, families will be slammed with brutal premium increases and massive surcharges for the health coverage their loved ones desperately need.”
The new plan also continues to threaten Medicaid as well as access to reproductive health services. The plan would still end the Medicaid expansion and drastically cut Medicaid funding. Tens of millions of people will lose coverage through this dismantling of the Medicaid program, and women of color in particular would be disproportionately impacted. The plan also continues to threaten women’s access to Planned Parenthood services and would further restrict coverage of abortion in the private insurance market by placing restrictions on private insurance companies’ ability to offer comprehensive reproductive health care coverage that includes abortion.
Media Resources: Politico 4/27/17; New York Times 4/26/17; Office of the House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi 4/26/17; Vox 4/25/17; Feminist Newswire 3/14/17; Planned Parenthood Federation of America