Every Mother’s Day we are reminded of the sacred obligation we have to moms and babies across this nation. Whether you are a mother, father, grandmother or grandfather, we all share the common bond of family and we all have a responsibility to ensure our children are healthy and thriving.
Becoming a parent, as any of us who’ve made this incredible journey know, is one of life’s most awesome experiences. It’s intensely joyful, often challenging, sometimes bewildering, and completely transformative.
And for a mom-to-be who doesn’t receive the right care, it can also be unnecessarily dangerous, resulting in costly and sometimes devastating complications. As parents and grandparents, we are teaming up to raise awareness about the devastating impacts of the U.S. House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Healthy futures ― the kind of future that every mom and dad wants for their baby ― start with healthy beginnings. But under this irresponsible plan, states could opt out of requiring health insurance companies to cover maternity care and allow them to claim pregnancy as a preexisting condition. This essentially imposes a pregnancy tax ― a healthy baby surcharge, if you will ― of around $17,000 on expectant parents. Even women who are just thinking about becoming pregnant would have to disclose their baby dreams to health insurance companies, and could be forced to pay more if pregnancy were in their plans, literally.
“These provisions are harmful to mothers, newborns, families, and communities. They don’t reflect our values as Americans...”
Medicaid, which currently pays for nearly 50% of births in the U.S., will be slashed under the AHCA, depriving hundreds of thousands of moms and families the prenatal care, safe deliveries, and newborn care they and their little ones deserve.
When pregnancies are unplanned and uncared for, little problems become big ones, and can quickly take a tragic toll. Families who experience a complicated birth or have children with birth-related disabilities could incur costs above what their health insurance company will pay, limiting their access to life-saving medical care.
These provisions are harmful to mothers, newborns, families, and communities. They don’t reflect our values as Americans and they certainly don’t acknowledge our fundamental obligation to deliver a healthy future for every mom and baby.
Comprehensive, quality, affordable preconception, prenatal, postpartum, maternal mental health, and newborn care for every mom and every baby is a fundamental human right. As members of the same human family ― not as members of political teams in a political game ― it’s up to us to fulfill that right, without exception.
A commitment to life should be a lifetime commitment. And we share a collective responsibility for our moms and babies.
So on this Mother’s Day, let’s put moms and babies first, where they belong. Let’s acknowledge the importance of ensuring mothers all across this nation have access to quality, affordable health care. And let’s do it as if our future depends on it because actually, it does.
Heidi Murkoff is the New York Times Best Selling Author of ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ and the Founder of WhatToExpect.Com.
Jon Tester is a third generation farmer from Big Sandy and the senior Senator from Montana.