The U.S. has the highest maternal death rate of any developed country. Senate Republicans are intent on passing legislation that would increase the cost of pregnancy and prenatal care for all women, increase the cost of not getting pregnant, and increase costs for pre-existing conditions unique to women, without a single hearing or consulting any outside experts.
The House and Senate bills redefine what an essential health benefit is for Medicaid plans and for all other health insurance. Currently, all plans must cover 10 categories of care, including outpatient services, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, laboratory services, and pediatric services, including oral and vision care. That guarantee ends now.
74,531,002 Americans are enrolled in Medicaid, a program the GOP hopes to cut by $834 billion to fund the largest tax cut for the rich in history. Medicaid covers 1.4 million people in nursing homes, at least 25 million low-income women, about half of all children in the U.S., including 60 percent of disabled children, and half of the country’s new births each year. Not only will enrollees lose basic benefits, but the law phases out all Medicaid expansion, slashes funding, and requires new mothers on Medicaid to return to work 60 days after giving birth or lose their coverage.
Let’s be clear: All women will lose access to critical health services. The bills give states broad waiver authority over what services are covered by insurance plans, allowing the 32-plus GOP-dominated state legislatures to redefine essential health benefits.
“Nearly a million jobs in health care are expected to be lost in the next ten years under the GOP plan."”
Prior to the passage of the ACA, only 12 percent of non-group plans covered maternity care. The CBO estimated women under Trumpcare could pay as much as $1,000 per month to get maternity care and pregnancy coverage.
Equally at risk are those with pre-existing conditions. The GOP bills single out anorexia and bulimia, breast cancer, C-sections, postpartum depression, sexual assault, and domestic violence, and again, let the state legislatures decide if you are worthy of any coverage at all.
Both bills defund Planned Parenthood—a provider of preventative care and family planning for millions of low-income women. Over half of their 650 health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas with health professional shortages, and they are the only clinics focused on women’s health in 105 counties in the U.S.
They go further, prohibiting federal tax subsidies from paying for individual market plans that cover abortion. Ultimately, fewer women will have access to birth control. Remember, federal funds have not paid for abortion services since 1977. This is not only an attack on abortion; this is an assault on a major provider of preventative health services for low-income women across the board. And no one believes this is a one-year freeze.
Nearly a million jobs in health care are expected to be lost in the next ten years under the GOP plan. 60 percent of those jobs (insurance, direct care) are held by women.
Then there is the raw economics of misogyny. Whatever the coverage or the copay, health care costs a woman 20 percent more because of the gender gap in pay. That gap contributes directly to women’s poverty. In 2015, 14 percent of American women ages 18–64 were living below the federal poverty level, compared with 11 percent of men. People with disabilities made just 68 percent of what people without disabilities made. And among people with disabilities, the gender pay gap is substantial: The median pay for women with disabilities is 69 percent that of men with disabilities. Those most in need will be most harmed.
Simply put: Every woman will lose rights, lose access to care, and pay more under Trumpcare, even those who voted for him.