After several false starts, the GOP is back with yet another drastic healthcare proposal that could gut the Affordable Care Act and dramatically alter the landscape of American health care as we know it. One of the groups with the most to lose should the Graham-Cassidy bill actually pass is — yep, you guessed it! — women. The Senate is expected to vote on this radical piece of legislation as early as next week, which is exactly why you need to get acquainted with what's in it right now.
Known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, the Republican healthcare proposal turns federal funding for Medicaid expansion into block grants, giving states autonomy to determine how those funds can be used. Many experts have flagged that these state-run plans could have major ramifications on some of America's most vulnerable populations, putting people in the individual insurance market at risk of paying high costs for health care if they have preexisting conditions. Critics also say this would likely lead to an increased number of uninsured Americans.
It's probably no surprise that a bill championed by two conservative male senators (Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy) does not contain the necessary provisions to ensure that women's health care is adequately protected, but the Graham-Cassidy bill is particularly dangerous. From cuts to abortion rights to loss of guaranteed maternity care, we've outlined some of the most detrimental cuts to women's health care that are included in this legislation.
Concerned? Find out how to get in touch with your senators to let them know what you think of the Graham-Cassidy bill here.
- 1. Planned Parenthood would be stripped of crucial funding. In our current healthcare system, Planned Parenthood is reimbursed by the government for any nonabortion services covered by Medicaid. If passed, the Graham-Cassidy bill would eliminate those reimbursements for one year, restricting women's access (specifically low-income women's access) to life-saving screenings and tests provided by Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. Though there are other federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) that provide such services, the Guttmacher Institute states that it's virtually impossible that the other healthcare providers that receive federal funding would be able to adequately serve the millions of women who rely on Planned Parenthood every year.
- 2. Low-income women would lose necessary subsidies. Under the Affordable Care Act, tax credits are provided to low-income (and mid-income) citizens to help ease the burden of insurance premiums. The Graham-Cassidy bill plans to completely gut this provision, eliminating all tax credits for health insurance funded by these block grants. While it's possible that states could choose to use their block grants to help subsidize the cost of insurance for those Americans who cannot easily afford it, states would not be required to do so, leaving the ability to afford health care in limbo for millions of Americans.
- 3. Abortion access would be restricted even further. If a state accepts federal funds (as in, block grants) to help subsidize their constituents' health insurance premiums, the Graham-Cassidy bill would ban any such programs from providing abortion coverage through the state-run healthcare plan. This would give the federal government enormous leverage to restrict reasonable abortion access, even in states that provide ample access to abortion care now.
- 4. Maternity care would be at risk. Currently, all health insurers are required to provide coverage that fulfills 10 essential health benefits, with maternity care being one such benefit. In the Graham-Cassidy bill, states are allowed to apply for waivers to change what qualifies as an essential health benefit in their state, leaving essential maternity care vulnerable to being cut from insurance plans.