Women Aren't Safe From Losing Their Health Care Even Though The AHCA Has Been Killed
After a few weeks of controversial ups and downs, the House finally held a vote on the American Health Care Act, the bill meant to repeal and replace Obamacare. With the Congressional Budget Office informing the public that 24 million people would lose their health insurance if the AHCA were to pass, the Republicans behind the bill implemented some (very) quick changes, but that wasn't enough to keep Donald Trump from failing. Instead, Trump reportedly directed House Republicans to kill the bill before it ever came to a vote. The AHCA being killed will help women for now – but only until the next bill comes around.
The original form of the AHCA kept an important part of Obamacare: the essential health benefits coverage. This meant that crucial coverage for women, such as birth control and maternity care, would stay in place. However, in an attempt to woo over the more conservative Republicans who had decried the AHCA as "Obamacare Lite," the White House reportedly worked overnight to strike that coverage from the bill.
This might have gained a bit of approval from the House Freedom Caucus, an ultra-conservative sect of the House, but that didn't help get votes from more moderate representatives. Knowing he wasn't going to get the votes, Trump pulled the bill, meaning your birth control and maternity care is safe ... for now. Republicans — especially House Speaker Paul Ryan — aren't going to give up, and you can likely expect another bill to come our way sometime soon. So, remember how everyone was talking a while ago when Donald Trump was elected about how you should get an IUD and quick? You might want to start considering that again.
One of the main ways the AHCA being pulled affects women, though, is because the bill in its current form would have changed Medicaid in ways that would have deeply hurt its recipients. More women than men are enrolled in Medicaid across the United States, and the bill would have reduced the amount of money that is given to states for the Medicaid program.
The AHCA would also have stopped the expansion of Medicaid in 2020, decreased subsidies, and added a work requirement for recipients. According to Slate, the work requirement would have meant that two months after giving birth, if a woman hasn't found and started a job yet, a state would be allowed to remove her Medicaid coverage.
And of course, the AHCA also specifically targeted abortion coverage (which, FYI, abortions are already not covered by federal funds thanks to the Hyde Amendment). The way the AHCA was written added abortion restrictions to certain subsidies, Health Affairs reported, meaning private insurers who wanted to offer abortion coverage would have been discouraged from doing so in order to still stay relevant in the individual health insurance market.
Tack that on to the fact that the AHCA also would have defunded Planned Parenthood by making it a "prohibited entity" that cannot receive funds because it provides abortions for reasons other than in the cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger. Again, abortions already cannot be covered by federal funds thanks to the Hyde Amendment, and any money that Planned Parenthood receives does not go to abortion services.
So, if you couldn't have bought private insurance that covers abortion, and if Planned Parenthood had been defunded, Republicans would have de-facto denied all women their right (as established in Roe v. Wade) to a safe and legal abortion.
Oh, and since about 40 percent of Planned Parenthood's operating budget comes from the federal government, this would have been be a huge blow not just to women who want abortion coverage, but to women who go to the organization for preventative care as well. Planned Parenthood provides birth control, STD testing and treatment, pap smears, breast exams, and cancer screenings. Republicans have tried for years to defund Planned Parenthood, though, so like the rest of these issues, the organization might be safe for now, but Republicans aren't going to let this one go.
The fact that the American Health Care Act was killed is an important victory for women. But still, this fight is far from over. There will be another GOP healthcare bill. Trump isn't going to let "Obamacare" stay in place while he's in office. If you want to help protect women from the devastating effects a future bill could bring, be sure to call your representatives and call your senators, and tell them you're against any healthcare bill that would hurt women. This isn't over yet.