The New York Times wrote yesterday that the Trump administration was planning to announce a rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, and sure enough, the announcement came this morning.
I’m trying to summon outrage over this, but really, on the heels of everything else this trainwreck of an administration has done, all I can manage is a sort of eye-rolling disgust.
It’s not that it isn’t a big deal: 55 million women have gotten access to birth control without a co-pay since the benefit was first introduced. In 2013 alone, birth control pill users saved $1.4 billion in out of pocket costs. One-point-four-BILLION DOLLARS. In one year. On just the Pill. Upfront costs for IUD’s—one of the most effective long-acting methods, fell to $0 for most women with insurance.
The new rules specifically say that the ACA does not require that birth control be covered. And they dramatically expand the exemptions that were the result of the Hobby Lobby case in 2014. Previously, entities that objected to covering birth control had to notify the government that they would not comply. Insurers were then required to offer separate birth control coverage at no additional cost to the affected employees. The new rules do away with all of that. They let any employer, large or small, religious or secular, assert a religious or moral objection to birth control and refuse to cover it. And that’s it. They don’t have to notify anyone but their employees, and insurers don’t have to do anything to offer the coverage.
And like pretty much every other thing they’ve done, they’re not even pretending to follow the normal process for making changes like this. Most regulatory changes go through what’s called a “notice and comment” period before they take effect. It’s done so groups or individuals affected by the change have an opportunity to have their objections heard. This time? Nope. The new rules go into effect immediately.
And part of the administration’s stated rationale for the change? Access to birth control might promote “risky sexual behavior” among teens and young adults. (Pardon me for a moment while I go dig up that Krysten Ritter eye-roll GIF.)
There it is! Now, where was I?
This is just so very typical of this administration: a nonsense rationale for a bad policy, arbitrarily adopted and recklessly imposed. It’s going to hurt a lot of people (but mostly women so what do we care, amiright?).
And apart from their contempt for women, we know what else this is about. They failed a repealing the ACA, so they’re doing everything in their power to make sure it doesn’t work anymore. They cut the advertising budget so people don’t know they need to sign up. They refuse to fulfill their obligations under the law. They cut the open enrollment period. They won’t let states make fixes to their marketplaces. And they take away popular provisions like the birth control benefit.
Because they don’t care. And because they can.