Poor women of color set to lose big under TrumpCare
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Remember when the Occupy Wall Street movement and Thomas Piketty’s book caused policymakers on both sides of the aisle to wring their hands about growing inequality in America?

That was then, this is now.

The Republican’s recent unveiling of their Senate health bill, which closely resembles their House version, illustrates that the GOP doesn’t care about reducing inequality but is committed to expanding it.

I’m not just talking about the fact that both bills take critical resources away from low-, moderate-, and middle-income households to subsidize the wealth of the rich — a form of class warfare and a gross bastardization of the family values the GOP once claimed to possess.

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I’m talking about the fact that the world is watching as the Republican Party deliberately and systematically restructures the U.S. healthcare system to make it harder for a majority of Americans, but especially those whom they hold in low regard, to access care, stay out of debt, be healthy, live with dignity, or even live life.

 

And make no mistake, their health care bills make it clear whom they view as undeserving.

With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, uninsured rates went down for all racial and ethnic groups but reductions were especially significant among people of color who benefitted from Medicaid expansion, the creation of the ACA marketplaces, and subsidies that made insurance more affordable.

Indeed, the ACA even managed to eliminate the disparities in coverage between black and white children—a feat that underscores how carefully crafted policies can close racial disparities that too many have incorrectly come to view as a natural part of life.

Yet, the so called Better Care Reconciliation Act and the American Health Care Act would reverse these critical gains by enacting provisions—such as gutting Medicaid and cutting subsidies—that would have a disproportionately negative impact on low-income people of color—exacerbating their already greater likelihood of being uninsured, sick and without the resources to get ahead in life.

Perhaps not surprising for a Senate bill crafted by 13 white men under the cloak of secrecy, women fare no better. The GOP who have made the sanctity of the unborn fetus a political rallying cry, have highlighted their hypocrisy yet again by designing Senate and House health bills that could make it prohibitively expensive for women to give birth to them.

Under the guise of offering more affordable insurance plan choices, the health bills make insurance coverage for childbirth optional. Coupled with the draconian reductions in Medicaid, which is the nation’s largest payer of U.S. deliveries, they are creating deliberate disincentives for low- and moderate- income women, especially those of color, from giving birth to children while making the act of childbirth financially viable only for wealthier, and by statistical definition, whiter women.

The fidelity of their assault on low-, moderate-, and middle-income women is reinforced by multiple prohibitions against federal dollars or tax credits going towards financing abortions, which reiniforces the GOP’s long-time efforts to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term even as they make it financially perilous for many women to birth a baby.

And of course, no Republican bill would be complete without taking a gratuitous swipe at Planned Parenthood, which the Senate bill defunds for one year even though the organization is already prohibited from using federal dollars to finance abortion services.

This effort contradicts the GOP’s supposed free market principles by using legislation to attempt to put the organization out of business.  It also unjustifiably narrows healthcare options for consumers who choose to receive their health care services at Planned Parenthood.

Disregard for the dignity and livelihoods of older adults is also a hallmark of Republican health bills as seniors on limited incomes will be required to pay more for health care and may lose their ability to access nursing home care and other financial assistance due to Medicaid cuts.

The mentally ill, children, and those with preexisting conditions who rely on prescription drugs are among other groups who will be unfairly and severely disadvantaged by Trumpcare.

By advancing health bills designed to further impoverish already struggling families, the biggest takeaway from the GOP’s efforts to repeal the ACA is that only the wealthy are deserving of federal support; everyone else is on their own.

Instead of being a great achievement in fiscal discipline, GOP health bills represent a failure of leadership; a historical departure from almost a century of grand policy initiatives seeking to reduce inequality by providing a better standard of living for all Americans.

That their efforts will cause untold millions of low-, moderate-, and middle-income workers and their families to experience preventable financial crises and to go without life-saving health coverage—leading to unnecessary pain, suffering and early death — will be a source of national shame if enacted and another signal to the world that U.S. is in decline.

Under Republican rule it seems that profound cruelty and disregard for the value of human life is the new American way.

Maya Rockeymoore is a political scientist, policy analyst, author, speaker, and social entrepreneur. She is the president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions LLC, a social change strategy firm dedicated to driving society toward inclusion.


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