The Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare gained new momentum on Thursday, when the House voted to pass the revised American Health Care Act (AHCA) in spite of vehement public opposition. The bill is now headed to the Senate, where it is expected to undergo some serious changes. But the bill's passage through the House was more a victory for the GOP — in fact, its first substantial legislative victory under the Trump administration — than it was for the American people. If it makes it through the Senate intact and lands on President Trump's desk, the AHCA will affect Americans in ways that are expensive, devastating, and even life-altering.
The GOP's health care bill builds on the party's long-running wars on women and low-income people, but it also brings to light legislative assaults on other groups in America, including people with disabilities, older people, young children, and perhaps most disastrously, those with preexisting medical conditions. Consider what it took for the AHCA to get to a vote in the House this time around. In order to coax enough votes from their own party, Republicans revised the bill to make it even stricter and more draconian so as to win over the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus. The revisions they agreed upon would allow states to opt out of certain insurance regulations so that companies wouldn't have to cover certain health benefits. The passage of the bill in the House was a big deal for Republicans, surely, but for millions of Americans, the ways that the can change their health care will be profound.
1. Being a woman will get a whole lot more expensive
Considering Capitol Hill's stellar record of misogyny, that the AHCA hits women hard isn't shocking by any standard. The bill will defund Planned Parenthood, restrict women's access to birth control by allowing states to opt out of "essential care," and cause millions of people to lose health insurance by 2024.
2. Victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault can be denied coverage
Even taking into account the party's history of misogyny, this one is stunning. The new bill considers domestic abuse and sexual assault to be preexisting conditions, and despite widespread public support for the Obamacare provision that requires insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, the GOP chose to remove that part from its bill to appease the Freedom Caucus.
Although Trump insisted that people with preexisting conditions will continue being protected under the AHCA, that turned out not to be the case.
3. If your child has a disability, their education will suffer
The AHCA will, over the course of 10 years, cut Medicaid by a whopping 25 percent, or $880 billion — and students with disabilities will take the hit. School districts rely on the federal program to provide special education services and equipment, and with the drastic cut in funding, schools will lose the capacity to provide the same amount of care to their students with disabilities.
4. There will be even less support for older, low-income Americans
For older adults with low incomes, one of America's most vulnerable populations, the AHCA is needlessly cruel. Older people who live close to the poverty line may end up paying an extra $12,900 annually for premiums, which amounts to something like half of what they make.
"The AHCA would turn that on its head," Cynthia Cox of the Kaiser Family Foundation told Vice. "The AHCA takes money from lower income people and gives it to higher income people and from older people to younger people."
5. The cost of pregnancy will skyrocket
In another example of the GOP's blatant disregard for women, C-sections are included on the list of preexisting conditions. So is postpartum depression.
6. And if you don't want to get pregnant? Well, that's just too bad
By defunding Planned Parenthood and allowing states to opt out of "essential care," women's access to birth control will be a lot more limited. And if it results in an unplanned pregnancy or an STD, the AHCA won't help you pay for it, either.
7. Actually, if you have any sort of medical condition, you'll be affected
The AHCA's list of preexisting conditions is long, and since it allows insurance companies to increase your premiums if you have a preexisting condition, you'll have to pay a whole lot more for treatment.
On Thursday morning, Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, laid it out in alphabetical order on Twitter: AIDS/HIV, acid reflux, acne, ADD, addiction, Alzheimer's/dementia, anemia, aneurysm, angioplasty, anorexia, anxiety, arrhythmia, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism, bariatric surgery, basal cell carcinoma, bipolar disorder, blood clot, breast cancer, bulimia, bypass surgery, celiac disease, cerebral aneurysm, cerebral embolism, cerebral palsy, cerebral thrombosis, cervical cancer, colon cancer, colon polyps, congestive heart failure, COPD, Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, DMD, depression, diabetes, disabilities, Down syndrome, eating disorder, enlarged prostate, epilepsy, glaucoma, gout, heart disease, heart murmur, heartburn, hemophilia, hepatitis C, herpes, high cholesterol, hypertension, hysterectomy, kidney disease, kidney stones, kidney transplant, leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lymphoma, mental health issues, migraines, MS, muscular dystrophy, narcolepsy, nasal polyps, obesity, OCD, organ transplant, osteoporosis, pacemaker, panic disorder, paralysis, paraplegia, Parkinson's disease, pregnancy, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, seizures, sickle cell disease, skin cancer, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, stent, stroke, thyroid issues, tooth disease, tuberculosis, and ulcers — to name a few.
8. Frankly, if you have an insurance plan at all, the AHCA will likely affect you
If the AHCA becomes law, its effects will be sweeping. If it somehow doesn't affect you whatsoever, you can bet that it'll impact others around you — and probably for the worse. Republicans considered its passage in the House a solid win on health care, but for millions of Americans, it was a calamitous loss.