The bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is objectively the worst bill for women’s health in a generation, and it’s particularly devastating to women on Medicaid.
One in five women of reproductive age currently relies on Medicaid for health care.
Yet, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would cut $839 billion from the program and kick 14 million people off across 10 years. Those people include millions of reproductive-age women who need Medicaid for no-cost, critical reproductive health services like birth control and maternity care. What’s more, the AHCA eliminates a major part of the safety-net provider network for women: access to care at Planned Parenthood.
All that denial of access sets up women’s health — and American health care writ large — for an unprecedented disaster.
Medicaid 101: The Largest Reproductive Health Care Source
Medicaid helps cover people with low incomes and those who lack private health insurance.
It’s the country’s single largest source of reproductive health care coverage, and here’s why:
More than 74 million people are covered by Medicaid, including nearly 17 million women between the ages of 19 and 64 who depend on it as their primary source of health care.
Medicaid covers birth control; family planning; STD tests and treatment; well-woman exams; lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings; and maternity care (including prenatal and delivery).
Medicaid covers nearly half of all births in the United States.
For 20% of reproductive-age women, Medicaid makes the difference between getting access to basic care — or going without. Taking away Medicaid leaves a huge swath of women who have low incomes without the coverage they need to care for their health and their families.
AHCA Blocks Medicaid Patients from Planned Parenthood
Not only would the AHCA kick millions of women off of Medicaid, it would block the rest from turning to their trusted health care provider: Planned Parenthood. This “defunding” would cause thousands of women with low incomes to lose access to care, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Planned Parenthood health centers are a key source of quality, affordable care for women who use Medicaid and other public programs, like Title X.
About half of Planned Parenthood’s 2.5 million patients use Medicaid.
Planned Parenthood centers serve 32% of all patients who rely on public programs for reproductive health care.
If anti-abortion politicians block patients who rely on public programs from care at Planned Parenthood and force its health centers to close, then many of these patients — particularly those in medically underserved areas — will have nowhere else to turn.
We can’t believe we have to keep saying this, but here we go: Women should be able to choose their own health care provider. Period.
AHCA Guts the Medicaid Program
The AHCA slashes federal support for states’ Medicaid programs, forcing states to either come up with extra money or cut benefits — a situation that puts women in the crosshairs. To save money, states may limit coverage of prenatal visits and family planning services, or cut people from their coverage.
Just one ramification: Medicaid currently covers birth control at no cost. If women lose Medicaid and need to pay out-of-pocket for birth control pills, it can cost them up to $600 per year. That’s simply unaffordable for many women with low incomes.
AHCA Ends Medicaid Expansion
The AHCA will effectively end Medicaid expansion, which has provided coverage to at least 11 million people. That will result in women, disproportionately women of color, losing access to care.
In particular, ending Medicaid expansion threatens new mothers’ access to continuous coverage before and after pregnancy. Under the ACA, pregnant women have been eligible for Medicaid at higher incomes than other adults. But ending expansion could bring women back to the days when they often lost eligibility 60 days after childbirth.
AHCA Forces New Mothers with Medicaid to Find Work Right After Giving Birth
As if the other policies weren’t cruel enough, the bill lets states impose work requirements as a condition of Medicaid coverage and revoke it from new mothers who don’t work within 60 days of giving birth.
Requiring Medicaid beneficiaries to work as a condition of eligibility is generally unnecessary. Nearly 60% of Medicaid enrollees who can work do (and if they don’t work, it’s usually because they are unable to). Work requirements also disproportionately impact women, who account for 62% of non-working Medicaid enrollees.
The AHCA would force impossibly high health care costs on the women who can least afford it. It also would disproportionately impact people who already face structural barriers to accessing care, including people of color, immigrants, young people, and LGBTQ people.
This heartless attack on health care is now with the Senate. If you are as disgusted by it as we are, take action now.