Last Thursday, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That’s barely news, since over the last 7 years or so they’d already voted to repeal it more than 50 times. This time, though, there was an actual replacement bill involved.
The House narrowly (217-213) passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA.) In short? It’s an awful, terrible, cruel bill that deserves to die a fiery death and inspire self-flagellation and deep feelings of remorse in its supporters.
So far that hasn’t happened. Instead, the bill is going to the Senate, where even House members who voted for it openly hope it gets substantially changed.
The whole AHCA is a mess, but it’s got several provisions that are particularly bad for women. Here are five of them:
Plans won’t have to cover contraception or maternity services.
In order to corral enough votes to pass the bill, House leadership made serious concessions to the most conservative wing of the Republican party. They included a provision allowing states to opt out of the ACA’s minimum coverage standards, meaning insurance companies could go back to selling skimpy plans that exclude things like maternity and prescription coverage. Since around half of pregnancies in the US are unintended (covering contraception helps with that, BTW), that means a lot of women may find themselves without insurance coverage for one of the most expensive medical events they will ever experience.
Cutting access to abortion.
The AHCA offers tax credits to individuals to help them purchase insurance. However, those tax credits can’t be used to purchase any plan that covers abortion services.
Throwing poor women off of Medicaid.
The AHCA calls for $880 BILLION-with-a-B in cuts to Medicaid. Proponents continue to argue that this somehow won’t lead to massive coverage losses, although there’s no explanation for how they’re going to manage this. Women are more likely to be on Medicaid than men, and therefore more likely to lose their insurance when Medicaid is underfunded.
Banning funding for Planned Parenthood.
Even those Medicaid recipients who *don’t* lose their coverage thanks to the cuts could lose access to their doctors. The bill would forbid Medicaid recipients from using their insurance for any service at any provider that offers abortions.
Pricing women out of the market.
The AHCA would not allow insurers to charge women more than men for coverage, at least not directly. But it *would* let them charge far higher premiums to anyone who has a pre-existing condition. The list of things insurers have considered pre-existing contains a lot of things that are common among women: C-sections, post-partum depression, breast and cervical cancer, to name just a few.