Yesterday, the GOP debuted their “alternative” to ObamaCare, which is not so much a new healthcare plan as it is a plan to tank the health and well-being of millions of Americans. This new plan dismantles vital safety net programs and gives states greater autonomy to deny health insurance coverage to their citizens, a move that would devastate the most vulnerable communities across the country.
In an attempt to distract people from the disastrous components of the law, Republicans are proposing to keep three of the more popular provisions of the original Affordable Care Act (ACA): letting young people stay on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26, preventing insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, and the ban on lifetime insurance coverage caps.
Yet, these scraps of the ACA are rendered meaningless for key constituencies of the American public, women, people of color, and people living in poverty in particular.
If the healthcare you need is reproductive healthcare, you’re out of luck: the new plan essentially defunds Planned Parenthood by prohibiting the organization from being reimbursed for seeing patients who receive insurance coverage through Medicaid.
This could cut healthcare services for over 2.5 million men and women who rely on Planned Parenthood as their main provider of healthcare.
In a stunning display of the abortion stigma coming from the highest office in the land, President Trump offered to restore this funding if Planned Parenthood stopped performing one of the life-saving services they offer: abortion care. Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens fired back, “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.”
Mercilessly slashing funding for Planned Parenthood is not just a brazen attack on women’s health care, it’s also an evisceration of access to healthcare for people struggling to make ends meet.
About seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood’s patients live at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which means that a family of four, for example, is surviving off of a meager $36,300 a year. Research consistently demonstrates that other safety net healthcare providers do not provide as high quality care as Planned Parenthood, and these other centers simply are not equipped to take on the volume of Planned Parenthood’s patients. Eradicating Medicaid reimbursements for Planned Parenthood is equivalent to cutting off healthcare for America’s poor.
Eliminating Planned Parenthood funding isn’t the only way that Republicans are trying to decimate healthcare coverage for Americans. Their plan proposes gutting some of the most effective parts of the original ACA, including Medicaid expansions, requiring large employers to provide healthcare coverage for employees, and providing tax credits that help Americans afford insurance.
These radical efforts to deny Americans the right to health insurance will only increase disparities in healthcare and put millions of Americans in the impossible position of deciding between feeding their families or paying out of pocket for healthcare.
While the ACA is certainly not perfect, it braved a pathway to closing the many gaps in America’s health system. If Republicans are actually committed to improving American healthcare, they should listen to their constituents and champion ObamaCare instead of recklessly seeking to dismantle it.
Steph Herold, MPH is an award-winning activist and social scientist with a background in abortion care, abortion funds, and reproductive health advocacy. She is a co-founder and former Co-Director of one of the leading abortion stigma reduction organization in the United States, the Sea Change Program. Her past Board experience includes serving on the Board of Directors of the New York Abortion Access Fund for three years, the Steering Committee of the International Network for the Reduction of Abortion Discrimination and Stigma for two years, and on the ACCESS: Women’s Health Justice Board of Directors for one year.
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