In the News

9 Ways The AHCA Is Anti-Feminist, Anti-LGBTQ, & Anti-Disability Rights

Jueves, Mayo 4, 2017
MIA MERCADO
Bustle
Wilmarie Ríos Jaime Phone: (202) 754-8811 Email: wilmarie@latinainstitute.org

This article was originally published on Bustle.com

On Thursday afternoon, the House passed the American Health Care Act. Although the bill still has to pass the Senate in order to become law, it's a massive blow for a huge amount of the population — because the AHCA is anti-feminist in pretty much every way possible. It is abundantly clear that the GOP’s proposed health care plan was not created with the health of people who are female, LGBTQ, disabled, low-income, or basically anything other than wealthy, white, cisgender, heterosexual, and male, in mind. And millions will suffer as a result.

A revision of a bill scrapped before even making it to a vote in March, the latest version of the AHCA will still likely leave some 24 million people without insurance by 2026, as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office stated the original would. If the latest bill doesn't pass both the House and the Senate, those people would continue to receive insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially known as Obamacare. The math matters: As projected by the Los Angeles Times, the proposed GOP plan could nearly double the number of uninsured people by 2026, from 28 million if Obamacare is kept to 52 million if it is repealed and replaced with the AHCA.

While the ACA is not without its flaws, the AHCA presents a whole new set of problems. In fact, Republican lawmakers have had a difficult time defending the AHCA, with Trump himself seemingly unaware of what is currently in the health care bill. Trump has repeatedly stated his intention to create a health care plan that “won’t leave people dying in the streets.”

An amendment to the bill itself reads, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as permitting health insurance issuers to discriminate in rates for health insurance coverage by gender." But if health care is truly meant to preserve and save lives, to be seen not as a privilege, but a human right, to be affordable and accessible to all people equally, regardless of things like gender or socioeconomics, there are at least nine ways the AHCA does not fit that bill — and likely plenty more:

The aforementioned MacArthur Meadows Amendment to the bill, introduced by leaders of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, would overturn the ban preventing insurance providers from spiking premium rates based on customer’s health history. Basically, it allows states to waive the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions, of which sexual assault is one.

In practice, this would look like insurance providers denying preventative health care screenings, like gynecological exams and mammograms, to survivors of sexual assault. Pre-Obamacare, survivors of rape could be denied health care coverage, as experienced by one woman who took anti-AIDS medication after she was raped. She was then denied insurance coverage because of the medication she took. With the AHCA, the likely outcome is that she would be subject to higher premiums which would make insurance not affordable.

Our culture victim-blames enough as it is. To make it possible to deny sexual assault survivors because someone violated them should be unthinkable — and yet here we are.

The MacArthur Meadows Amendment also impacts survivors of domestic violence, as domestic violence could also be considered a pre-existing condition. Like survivors of sexual assault, survivors of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence are left particularly vulnerable under this measure, as many experience mental health side effects like post-traumatic stress disorder. The American Psychological Association has also voiced concern about the negative impact the AHCA will have on mental health care coverage.

We're really batting a thousand here, aren't we? Despite the aforementioned claim that the MacArthur Meadows Amendment doesn’t allow providers to discriminate based on gender, there are provisions that certainly disproportionately affect women. In addition to sexual assault and domestic violence (both of which disproportionately affect women), postpartum depression and C-sections could be classified as pre-existing conditions that insurance providers could base premium prices on.

Obamacare has helped make treatment and support for postpartum depression more affordable and accessible. The AHCA, on the other hand, would enable providers to potentially charge patients with postpartum depression higher premiums.

Currently, special education programs receive funding through Medicaid. Under the AHCA, however, schools would no longer be eligible for Medicaid funding. There would also be a capped amount on how much money each state could receive through the program.

Schools use Medicaid funding to specifically serve students with disabilities. It helps pay for equipment, therapy, preventative care, and other crucial services. According to the New York Times“Under a little-noticed provision of the health care bill, states would no longer have to consider schools eligible Medicaid providers, meaning they would not be entitled to reimbursements.” Thus, an already vulnerable population would be left even worse.

Hi there, ageism. According to a side-by-side comparison by the Los Angeles Times, the AHCA enables insurance provides to charge older consumers at a significantly higher rate than the Affordable Care Act allowed. Under the Obamacare, insurance providers were not allowed to charge older consumers more than three times what that charged younger ones. While the current rates are not ideal, the GOP’s plan doesn’t leave older customers any better off. These rates for older consumers may be subsidized through additional assistance under the AHCA; however, that amount is still unclear.

The House will be voting on a bill that would restrict funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortion services through Medicaid reimbursement. Under this new bill, Medicaid would be “barred from providing funding for any health clinics that provide abortion services,” like Planned Parenthood.

What does this actually look like in practice? Blocking patients who rely on health care programs, like Medicaid, from receiving services at places like Planned Parenthood — things like cancer screenings, and yearly exams, and tons of other essential health care services, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with abortion. As their website states, 60 percent of Planned Parenthood patients rely on Medicaid. What's more, for four in 10 people, Planned Parenthood is their only accessible source of health care, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

If the AHCA passes both the House and the Senate, and it “defunds” Planned Parenthood, this is who congresspeople will be hurting.

Primarily through restrictions to Medicaid, AHCA will leave low-income women worse off. In addition to restrictions on where patients can receive services, Medicaid would no longer be required to cover basic care like contraceptives or maternity care starting in 2020. As per the Los Angeles Times, nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood patients fall at or significantly below the poverty line.

Who benefits financially from the AHCA? Wealthy Americans and insurance companies are among those to receiving large tax breaks. Everyone else suffers.

The Affordable Care Act is responsible for providing health care to millions of LGBTQ people. With the aforementioned provisions to Medicaid, AHCA could prevent more vulnerable groups, like LGBTQ patients, from receiving life-saving care. With the changes to pre-existing conditions, people diagnosed with cancer and HIV would also be at risk of losing insurance coverage or seeing their premiums spike significantly.

Want to know who isn’t affected by these provisions to Obamacare proposed in the AHCA? The people writing them. Members of Congress and their staff will be exempt from these waived protections should the bill pass. While an update was released saying this loophole will be closed, it is unclear when. As Vox states, “The fix, however, will be contained in separate legislation and not offered as part of the American Health Care Act. The version of the bill the House will vote on Thursday still contains the exemption for legislators.”