On Thursday, Republicans revealed their new Senate health care plan, but the revisions weren't promising. Despite the most recent tweaks and additions made to the bill, the piece of legislation is concerning, and perhaps worst of all, the new GOP health care bill isn't any better for women than the earlier versions.
Some aspects of the Better Care Reconciliation Act remain the same. For instance, the bill continues to plan to provide subsidies for those from lower-income backgrounds so that they may pay for their health coverage. It also continues to claim that it will prevent insurance companies from barring people with pre-existing conditions.
One of the most obvious changes made to the bill is that it now contains a version of Senator Ted Cruz' amendment. The Cruz Amendment would allow insurance companies to provide plans that do not adhere to Affordable Care Act regulations as long as one plan that is ACA compliant is offered.
Two of the ACA regulations concern essential health benefits and community rating. Essential health benefits include coverage for maternity care, emergency health care, drug prescriptions, and more, while community rating refers to the rule that insurers cannot arbitrarily change premiums in a given territory.
The primary reason for introducing the Cruz Amendment is to purportedly diversify consumer choice. But the Kaiser Family Foundation warns against the Cruz Amendment and says that non-compliant insurers would only attract "healthier" consumers as long as they don't need essential health benefits.
Other changes made to the GOP health care bill include an amplified strategy for federal funding for opioid treatment, as well as maintaining some taxes from the Affordable Care Act. But still, the new health care bill lacks significant structure to help and take care of vulnerable segments of American society.
For instance, the bill continues to call for cutting Medicaid, which is a source of care and assistance for millions of Americans who cannot afford more affluent options in terms of health coverage, especially women from the lower-income strata of society. Furthermore, it continues to demand the rollback of Medicaid expansion and plans to afford states the power to eliminate enrollees from receiving coverage. This would leave millions and millions uninsured and exposed.
On the front of reproductive health care, the bill remains abjectly the same. In spite of the introduction of an amendment and tweaks here and there, the bill continues to call for the defunding of Planned Parenthood for a full year. The reproductive health care organization is responsible for providing critical health services to millions of women and men in American. Services include STD testing, cancer screening, birth control, and more. Without Planned Parenthood, scores of American women will lack health coverage for their basic needs.
So far, uncertainty looms for the new version of the bill. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still needs 50 votes to pass the plan. Criticism against the new version remains high as moderates and conservatives within the Republican Party see varying issues within the proposal. Moderates believe that the bill will hurt far too many Americans, while conservatives believe that the bill does not go far enough with repealing the Affordable Care Act. At this moment, the future of the Better Care Reconciliation Act can only be described as cloudy.