The Affordable Care Act (ACA), mandated by former U.S. President Barack Obama, is now “dead” according to President Donald Trump, who intends to make sweeping changes to the American health care system. May 4 was a victorious day for the Republican Party, as the long-term effort to replace the ACA came closer to fruition when the American Health Care Act (AHCA) narrowly passed the House of Representatives. While many Democrats and a few Republicans have argued this change will hurt a majority of Americans, the new bill nonetheless passed the House with a vote of 217 to 213, with no Democrats voting in favor of the new health-care regime replacement and 20 Republicans voting against it. Vice President Mike Pence celebrated the vote of the new healthcare law, saying, “Thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare.” The AHCA will now move on to the Senate, where Republican leaders will face serious political challenges to solidify the end of Obamacare.
One of the major issues is that the new healthcare bill will allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, including people living with cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These pre-existing conditions also include postpartum depression, caesarean sections, and prior pregnancies, and will disproportionately affect women, particularly if they have low incomes. The dichotomy between healthcare for men and women in the bill is clear: while the act does not cite male-centric conditions like erectile dysfunction as a pre-existing condition, it does allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums to women who have previously had children, or those who have been victims of rape or domestic violence.
Many healthcare services which were free or more affordable under Obamacare, would be rendered inaccessible to low-income women under the new law. The AHCA cuts funding to reproductive health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, that provide abortion services, as well as primary and preventative care, including birth control, for women. This means that the new bill would stop the expansion of Medicaid, which provides millions of low-income, and minority men and women with health insurance. Trump’s AHCA would strip Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program, and would block millions of low-income women enrolled in Medicaid from having access to services that help them avoid pregnancy. Planned Parenthood was created as a way to counter the Hyde Amendment, a 40-year old law that bans the use of federal funding for abortions, unless the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or if the pregnancy endangers the health of the mother and give women the choice to make their own decisions about their bodies, without the involvement of politics, and since it was being funded by states, not federal dollars it did not violate the amendment.
The AHCA will be disastrous for many Americans if it passes the Senate. It would cause many citizens, particularly low-income citizens, to lose access to basic fundamental healthcare, with statistics showing that over 24 million people would be uninsured by 2026. Low-income women, as well as minorities, will have to struggle for access to health care services that were provided freely under Obamacare. Is taking away health insurance from the most vulnerable demographic groups really what’s making America great again? Trump, along with the rest of the Republican party, is ultimately passing a healthcare law that is putting women’s healthcare at the bottom of the ladder. We can’t solely blame President Trump for this new healthcare bill, because there are people that are letting him make these decisions, and allowing him to pass a bill that is sexist, and oppressive to all women at its core. The U.S. Senate should carefully evaluate the consequences of this new healthcare law before agreeing to have it implemented.
Photo: Women’s March on Washington (2017) by Molly Adams via Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the views of the NATO Association of Canada.