This article was originally published on May 4.
In a few hours the House of Representatives will vote on another bill designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care act. This new version includes provisions that would make health insurance prohibitively expensive for Americans who suffer from a wide range of health problems that qualify as "preexisting conditions," from asthma to depression to cancer—and pregnancy, domestic violence, and rape.
One amendment to the health care bill would allow states to deny insurance coverage to survivors of sexual assault who sought treatment for injuries they sustained during the attack. Before the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, went into effect, insurance companies often charged women more for health coverage because it was assumed they'd use the system more, for things like prenatal and maternity care. The United States already lags far behind other advanced economies when it comes to maternal health and infant mortality, and increasing the price of motherhood will likely make that gap even larger.
President Donald Trump, who's bragged openly about sexually assaulting women, promised during the 2016 campaign that he'd keep the preexisting conditions component of the ACA. While Republicans have argued that this new bill will not leave millions of people at risk of losing health insurance, the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment would allow states to waive the ban on denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Even worse, as Raw Story reports, it would allow states to waive preventive health care like vaccinations and gynecological visits, services that are critical to keeping people free of the very illnesses that would funnel someone into the pool of the uninsurable.
In a statement released Wednesday, Diane Horvath-Cosper, M.D., advocacy fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health, condemned the GOP plan. "This new proposed ACA repeal bill has the same dangerous ingredients as the reckless bill that failed in Congress a month ago in the wake of vocal, widespread opposition from patients across the county. It will still put comprehensive reproductive health care out of reach for millions of women, especially low-income women, by attacking Medicaid, Planned Parenthood, and abortion coverage," it read. "On top of that, this new bill goes further by allowing states to opt out of providing protections for patients with preexisting conditions, making premiums impossibly out of reach for these patients."
In addition to endangering health care access for millions of women and victims of crimes, the Republican bill would make it easier for employers to gut protections for workers in their insurance plans. A newly added provision would allow states to waive ACA requirements that employer-provided insurance plans cover essential services like emergency room visits and mental health care and that those plans could not set lifetime limits on health care spending. The fate of the bill is still uncertain—the vote is reportedly very close—but it's undeniable that this bill would have terrifying real life implications for the entire country.
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