(PRESS RELEASE) Senate Republicans today unveiled their health care bill that dismantles the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and pushes health care out of reach for millions of people.
In addition to gutting women’s access to basic health care services like birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood and guaranteed coverage of maternity care, the bill also strips women of their private insurance coverage for abortion care.
While Congress already denies too many people access to abortion care by restricting coverage for most abortions in Medicaid and other federal programs, this measure intrudes into the private insurance market and would withhold abortion coverage from virtually all women in the United States.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“This Senate bill is another assault on women’s health.
“It is an outrage that a bill, which will affect access to health care for millions of people, was written in secret with no women Senators and will not have a single public hearing.
“This bill hits women, low income families and people of color the hardest, including their access to essential reproductive health care. We are counting on the majority of Senators to do everything in their power to block this bill.”
Specifically, the bill singles out coverage for abortion care in the private market by prohibiting tax credits from being used to help purchase insurance in the individual market, thus disincentivizing private insurance companies from offering plans that cover abortion care, including those who offer employer-sponsored plans. It will also prevent small businesses from buying insurance plans for their employees that cover abortion care and limit states’ ability to provide comprehensive plans to residents – effectively banning private insurance from offering plans with abortion coverage. Coupled with current restrictions—including the discriminatory Hyde Amendment, which prohibits women who use Medicaid from using their health insurance to access safe and legal abortion care except in extremely limited circumstances—this measure would create a system where virtually all women – whether they are uninsured, insured through Medicaid or another federal program, insured through the individual market, or even insured by an employer – in the United States don’t have coverage for abortion services.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, stands as one of the most important legislative advancements for women’s health in decades. Under the ACA, over 55 million women have gained guaranteed coverage of preventive services without co-pays, including birth control. In 2016, 6.8 million women and girls enrolled in marketplace health plans, many of them using tax credits and subsidies to make the comprehensive coverage affordable.
On the other hand, the Senate bill unveiled today will significantly, and disproportionately, harm women and their families. In addition to fundamentally changing the entitlement nature of Medicaid, the bill specifically prohibits low-income patients with Medicaid coverage from receiving health care at Planned Parenthood health centers, blocking millions of Americans from accessing basic health care services like birth control and life-saving cancer screenings. It would threaten Essential Health Benefits, eliminating the guarantee that services like maternity care be covered. It also imposes optional work requirements on Medicaid recipients, allowing states to force new mothers on Medicaid to find work as soon as 60 days after giving birth. The bill also further restricts immigrants’ access to health care coverage.
The House passed a similar measure last month. Reports indicate a full Senate vote could happen as early as next week.