This Is The Scary Way Graham-Cassidy Would Affect Your Birth Control

by Bassam Khawaja

It's that time again — time for a small group of men to make life-changing decisions about women's bodies. As with their previous attempts at health care legislation, Senate Republicans have some dastardly plans when it comes to what Graham-Cassidy bill means for women's birth control and overall reproductive health.

The Graham-Cassidy bill, introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, would roll back the ACA's requirement that states cover birth control without a copay. According to a report from The Atlantic, the bill could also mean that birth control would no longer be free for women who purchase it on the individual market (that is, without the help of an employer paying a portion of the costs).

Graham-Cassidy promises to be even worse for women on Medicaid. Women who rely on the state-sponsored health care program would no longer be able to visit Planned Parenthood clinics for birth control for one year under the proposed legislation.

The bottom line? Graham-Cassidy's rollbacks on ACA insurance requirements mean birth control will become more expensive and, therefore, harder to come by for low-income patients — especially if Planned Parenthood clinics start disappearing as well. With this latest attempt at an ACA repeal and replace, women's rights are once again under attack.

Planned Parenthood representatives didn't shy away from emphasizing just how dangerous a prospect that is for the women they serve. "The Graham-Cassidy-Heller is the worst bill for women's health in a generation," Planned Parenthood Federation of America Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a press release sent to Bustle.

It's a cruel piece of legislation that would leave 32 million people without health care and devastate Planned Parenthood's patients. Don't be fooled: Graham-Cassidy-Heller means Americans will pay more but get less, and women will pay the biggest price of all.

Laguens attaches Nevada Sen. Dean Heller's name to the legislation because, according to FiveThirtyEight, Heller became a co-sponsor of the Graham-Cassidy bill during its "rise" back in July.

This last stipulation of Graham-Cassidy — forbidding Medicaid patients from visiting Planned Parenthood — is just the GOP's latest attempt to defund and shutter the country's clinics. According to Planned Parenthood's website, more than half of its patients rely on Medicaid to take advantage of its preventative services, including birth control.

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To make matters worse, the Senate GOP bill includes measures to gut federal funding to Medicaid, instead giving the money to states for them to decide how best to spend it. In addition to taking aim at low-income women, this attack on Medicaid makes for another sneak attack on Planned Parenthood.

One of the major ways Planned Parenthood's clinics receive federal funding is through Medicaid, with about 75 percent of the organization's government revenue coming from Medicaid reimbursements, according to TIME. That funding has become especially precious since President Trump signed legislation in April allowing states to withhold Title X funds — funds that go toward family-planning services nationwide — from clinics like Planned Parenthood.

Should Planned Parenthood lose this vital federal funding, it would threaten the survival of many of its clinics; the closure of those clinics would mean many more women would lose their access to birth control — not just those who currently rely on the ACA or Medicaid for coverage. In total, Planned Parenthood offers contraception to roughly 2.5 million patients every year.

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Despite its insistence on placing barriers in front of birth control access, Graham-Cassidy is similarly unkind to anyone requiring maternity care. Breastfeeding-support services, folic acid, anemia screenings, and other prenatal and neonatal services are among the preventative services the bill will give individual insurers the option of not covering.

These kind of draconian measures have made the bill rather unpopular among Americans, with just 24 percent of those polled in a Public Policy Polling survey expressing support for Graham-Cassidy. That statistic isn't surprising to Laguens, PPFA's executive director, who called on Congress to work together on more equitable health care legislation.

The majority of the American people oppose the Graham-Cassidy-Heller bill, as do major medical associations and health insurance groups. Congress should listen to experts and the American people, reject efforts to take away care, and focus on bipartisan fixes to expand access to care.