House Republicans narrowly passed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, after adding $8 billion to the bill aimed at reassuring moderate Republicans worried about higher costs for people with pre-existing conditions.
But an amendment added to the bill (after it failed to muster enough votes the first go-around) effectively gives states permission to discriminate against women, opponents say, including survivors of sexual assault.
As Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, argued in an Op-ed for The Hill, the so-called “MacArthur-Meadows amendment” lets states waive the Obamacare ban on charging higher premiums for women who have been raped, for example — which is a thing that actually happened pre-Obamacare.
“In one widely reported case, a 45-year-old woman met two men at a bar in Florida who bought her a drink. Hours later, she found herself lying by the side of the road with injuries indicating that she had been raped and that the men had spiked her drink. Her doctor prescribed a treatment of anti-viral, post-HIV exposure drugs to protect against HIV transmission,” Scaramella wrote to explain what women who were victims of sexual assault experienced before Obamacare.
“When the woman lost her health insurance several months after the attack, she was unable to obtain new insurance due to the health care treatment she had received for the assault,” Scarmella wrote. (That case was first reported on by HuffPost’s Investigative Fund.)
Other things insurers could once again consider to be pre-existing conditions? Having had postpartum depression. Being pregnant. Having had a previous C-section. Being a survivor of domestic violence.
“Prior to the ACA, insurance companies could charge more based on your previous health history, and there were no regulations that defined what could be considered a pre-existing condition, hence the stories about the wide range of reasons that people were given for why they were either being denied coverage, had to wait on when coverage would be available, or charged a higher rate based on their previous health conditions,” Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, Physicians for Reproductive Health advocacy fellow told HuffPost in an e-mail.
“With the new language, states could opt out of having to adhere to the ACA rule about insurance not being able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition, or charge higher rates for those conditions,” she said.
Women took to social media on Thursday to express their outrage.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sent out a press release before the vote insisting that the GOP health care bill does not allow people to be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, but as HuffPost’s Jeff Young points out, insurers can certainly charge people more. And again, states can seek waivers opting out of federal regulations meant to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions.
What a time to be alive and female.