June 26, 2017
wnpr | Harriet Jones
Women’s health care is one of the areas most deeply affected by the changes contained in the Republicans' recently revealed reform bill. Some experts in the field have described it as damaging and dangerous.
Medicaid currently covers health care needs for 25 million low-income women in the U.S. For those of childbearing age, the Republican reforms would completely remove coverage for maternity and childbirth.
“My concern is we’re going to have more and more women who aren’t going to get prenatal care, and they’re going to show up at labor and delivery with a disaster,” said Dr. Molly Brewer, the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UConn.
And she said that women covered by private insurance may not be any better off.
The bill gives states the right to allow insurers to opt out of covering maternity care and birth control, something that’s currently required under the Affordable Care Act.
“So if we’re not providing birth control, and we’re not providing maternity care - how are women going to take care of themselves?” Brewer asked.
In addition, the bill removes all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides care for tens of thousands of low income women in Connecticut.
While the organization has become controversial for its provision of abortion, that’s just a tiny fraction of the services it offers.
“They do pap smears; they do breast screening; they do STD screening; they provide pregnancy counseling; they provide birth control,” said Brewer.
Abortion itself is further restricted by this bill. Any plan provided with tax credits on a state exchange would be prohibited from covering abortion.
Sarah Croucher is the state director of NARAL Pro Choice in Connecticut. She believes that’s not a decision about health care, but about politics.
"This is something we should be deeply worried about," she told WNPR. "This is a way for Repubican senators to roll out an anti-choice agenda across the country. And so this is a way in which federal policy is going to deeply impact the choices available to Connecticut women."
Croucher said the bill represents a misogynist agenda, crafted without the input of women.
"What this is is a tax cut for the very wealthy at the expense of the health of literally millions of women across the country. What that does is literally place women's lives in danger, and I think that's truly disgusting," she said.
Both Croucher and Brewer stressed that the changes made by this legislation affect not just women, but the health of children.
“I think we’re going to be in a problem. I think it’s going to impact the health of our babies, and that’s going to be the next generation of people in this country,” Brewer said.
Republican supporters say the legislation moves the nation towards a more affordable health care system. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants to see a vote on the bill this week.