Women would suffer the most under the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan, according to a new analysis by the Women’s Public Policy Network (WPPN) of Ohio.
Dr. Anita Somani, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the president of the Columbus Medical Association, agreed with the analysis and said many of the increased health risks would come from the plan’s call to defund Planned Parenthood.
By defunding Planned Parenthood, the proposal would limit care and contraception – especially in underserved areas. This will cause an increase in HIV rates and unintended pregnancies. This already happened in Indiana and Texas.
Indiana’s GOP-led state legislature was among the first to declare war against Planned Parenthood in 2011 when it passed a bill to cut off money to the popular family planning provider because some of its clinics offer abortion services. A federal judge later blocked the law from taking effect but the state’s continued cuts to Planned Parenthood left many rural regions without an HIV testing center, prompting an exploding HIV outbreak. Texas saw a similar public health crisis.
Under the Obamacare replacement, called the American Health Care Act, low-income women, women of color and women living in rural areas would be hardest hit because they tend to rely more heavily on Planned Parenthood for their reproductive care, according to WPPN.
Other anti-woman provisions cited by the WPPN analysis:
- Deep, permanent cuts to Medicaid and the elimination of Medicaid expansion would threaten coverage for the millions of low-income women and families, pregnant women, women with disabilities, and elderly women that depend on the program for coverage. These cuts would shift costs to the states, likely leading to more limited eligibility for enrollment and cuts to coverage benefits. Women of color would be disproportionately impacted by these cuts as black women and Latina women are more likely than white women to be insured through Medicaid.
- The House GOP bill would jeopardize the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) standard provided under the ACA, which has made groundbreaking advancements for women in healthcare such as guaranteed maternity coverage. The EHB would “sunset” by 2020, meaning that it would be left up to states to decide whether or not insurers are required to cover these services. Without the EHB standards, women would be forced to pay out-of-pocket for maternity care, potentially costing them thousands of dollars to deliver a child.
- Women may be forced to pay out-of-pocket for mental health treatment or substance abuse services. As the new proposal would phase out both Medicaid and eliminate the guaranteed Essential Health Benefits (EHB) standard which includes mental health services and substance abuse treatment, many women would no longer be covered for everything from opioid addiction to depression. These individuals would now be forced to pay out-of-pocket to treat any mental health or substance abuse issues.
- Expanded restrictions on abortion coverage for both public and private insurance plans could potentially dismantle insurance coverage for abortion. Insurance coverage for abortion already faces dangerous restrictions, but the House GOP bill would create further barriers to accessing.. abortion coverage. Women would no longer be able to use tax credits to purchase insurance plans that cover abortion, with exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the pregnant person. The loss of tax credits to afford policies covering abortion would make them too expensive for many individuals and businesses. This cost-prohibitive provision would then drastically shrink access women have to abortion coverage, or possibly even lead to insurance providers completely dropping abortion coverage from their plans. It would cause women to have to either buy an unsubsidized, far more expensive plan or purchase a separate “rider” on their healthcare plan for abortion coverage.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland noted:
As anti-choice members of Congress and the Trump administration are stepping up their assault on abortion rights, they are simultaneously crafting policies to block access to family planning services. Local health departments and federally qualified health centers have said they are not equipped to provide care to the people who will lose their insurance coverage if the ACA is repealed and the contraceptive mandate is reversed. Women of color, young women, and low-income people will be most seriously harmed by this dangerous political agenda.
Experts also insisted that the proposed changes would undercut Ohio efforts to lower the state’s shamefully high infant mortality rate.
State Sen. Charleta Tavares, helped win passage of Senate Bill 332 – last year’s landmark infant mortality reduction law:
The passage of S. B. 332 provided important education on safe-spacing and long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) to ensure women are safely getting pregnant when they and their bodies are ready. The changes proposed in the AHCA would drastically undercut our efforts to reduce infant deaths and post-partum depression.
Although some causes of infant death are unknown, access to prenatal care and proper spacing between pregnancies are proven ways to improve maternal health and lower infant mortality. While calling for defunding Planned Parenthood and proposing drastic cuts to Medicaid, which would force the state to make benefit cuts or reductions in eligibility, Trumpcare would reduce access to the very programs that are essential to combat infant mortality.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, 7.2 of every 1,000 babies born died before their first birthdays. The numbers are even more chilling for black infants, who died at a rate of 15.1 per thousand live births — nearly three times the rate of white babies.
A copy of the full report can be found online, at womenspublicpolicynetwork.org.
The Ohio Women’s Public Policy Network (WPPN) is a coalition un-like any other group in the state. Formed in 2015 and convened by Innovation Ohio Education Fund, the WPPN pulls together 25 key advocacy organizations focused on promoting policies that create economic security for women and strengthen Ohio families.
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