The new Republican replacement plan for Obamacare isn't quite the amazing solution to the American healthcare crisis six years in the making that the party seemed to promise before its unveiling. In fact, the American Health Care Act very specifically limits vital coverage for one social group that already faces significantly disadvantage. The one thing every woman should know about the AHCA is how badly it will hurt women living in poverty.
This bill would be devastating to poor women, and if your feminism is truly intersectional, you'll do everything in your power to prevent it from becoming law.
In several pointed ways, the bill targets poor women, who would be one of the most detrimentally affected groups if the ACHA is voted into law. First off, birth control is still covered without a co-pay, but only for the time being. Starting in 2020, states can redefine "essential benefits" for Medicare recipients, which is the language that currently covers birth control. Considering the way Republican state legislatures have gotten their rocks off restricting women's rights over the last several years, it's a pretty safe bet to say that poor women will have to start paying for the pill again. A change in birth control coverage for the poorest Americans is particularly troubling, because they're precisely the demographic that can least afford to be burdened by unplanned pregnancy.
The bill also stipulates that the government will no longer fund "organizations that provide abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or health of the mother," which pretty transparently means Planned Parenthood. 79 percent of Planned Parenthood's patients are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, the majority of whom are women. The loss of services goes so far beyond abortion and contraception, which combined, only make up 37 percent of PP's annual services. Poor women will lose access to their well-woman exams, STI testing, and the educational services that PP provides,
Finally, the bill puts the entire future of Medicaid up in the air, because it calls for a "freeze" on the program starting in 2020. Millions could lose coverage if states can't make up the difference in Medicaid funding, which they almost certainly won't be able to. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Medicaid covered about half of all poor women between the ages of 15 and 44 in 2015, meaning those most effected by Medicaid budget cuts will be poor women once again.
So not only will the ACHA cause more people to be born into poverty in the next three years, it will slash their coverage even more after that, leading to a vicious and totally preventable cycle of poverty.
American society has on some level indoctrinated everyone to believe that poor people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but that's not really the story of what's going on here. What the ACHA really means is a huge tax break for the top one percent of Americans (and even bigger for the top 0.1 percent).
This bill is quite literally rich (mostly white) men trying to make themselves richer on the backs of poor women. It's horrifying that people could even come up with this bill, much less try to shove it through Congress without all the pertinent information (the CBO score did finally come out, and it doesn't look good). As women with the responsibility to advocate against misogynistic and oppressive social structures like the ACHA, this bill can't be allowed to become law.