health care

GOP’s Bill to Repeal Obamacare Defunds Planned Parenthood, Could Leave Millions Without Coverage

Dublin, Ireland - September 29, 2012: Dublin March for Choice 2012, Young woman holds hand made poster in act of support other women about their decisions regarding abortion

The day we’ve all dreaded is here: House Republicans have finally released their bill to repeal (and subsequently replace, sort of) the Affordable Care Act. This means if the bill is actually passed (which faces some hurdles) millions of people could lose health coverage. This also means Planned Parenthood, an organization countless women use, will be defunded.

It’s time to start worrying now.

CNN reported that the bill was unveiled yesterday, without a Congressional Budget Office score–which is a big deal–and an unfortunately telling sign for how it will affect people. What’s a CBO score? It’s a number that helps identify the cost of the plan, as well as number of people losing coverage as a result of the ACA repeal. Clearly, they don’t seem to know, or care, how many Americans will lose their health insurance and coverage, thanks to this bill.

Reps. Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Richard Neal of Massachusetts, two Democrats on the two House committees that crafted the bill )who voted against it) said that it “would rip health care away from millions of Americans, ration care for working families and seniors, and put insurance companies back in charge of health care decisions–contrary to everything President Trump has said he would do with his health care plan.”

The bill, which exists in two parts, can be read in full here and here. But here are some of its provisions include a tax break for insurance company executives who make over $500,000 per year.

Crucially, bill proposes that Medicaid be restructured in a way so each year, the state will receive money from the federal government, which will then be used as tax credits by individuals–tax credits instead of insurance. This means people will lose their coverage or not be able to afford everything, especially those who already live paycheck to paycheck and may be denied Medicaid coverage. The Washington Post explained:

“The Republican plan would offer tax credits ranging from $2,000 per year for those under 30 to $4,000 per year for those over 60. The full credit would be available for individuals earning up to $75,000 a year and up to $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. The credits would phase out for individuals earning more — for each $1,000 in additional income, a person would be entitled to $100 less in credit, meaning a 61-year old could make up to $115,000 and still receive some credit.”

Buzzfeed pointed out that this would be a big financial win for insurance companies, which is crazy because the health insurance industry really doesn’t need any one’s help:

“The average compensation for top health insurance executives is in the millions. In 2014 the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies found that this cap generated $72 million in additional tax revenue.”

It seems many Republicans are so out of touch with the way many Americans live–and what Americans need to live–that Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said low-income Americans should invest in their own healthcare instead of getting a new iPhone–ignoring the basic fact that health care should be a right, not a privilege–and you know, health care is so astronomically expensive, an iPhone honestly won’t make a huge difference. (Phones, we should note, help families stay in touch–it’s not like going to a Beyonce concert.)

Oh, but let’s not forget a huge part of this bill: Planned Parenthood will lose its federal funding. This means the organization, which provides women with affordable treatment and care (like pap smears and cancer screenings), would be ineligible for Medicaid reimbursements or federal family planning grants. While Planned Parenthood does provide abortions, the federal money doesn’t pay for it. And, it’s actually not what most of PP’s money is spent on either–the way Republicans ignore this fact is deeply ironic. In some areas, these clinics are the only health service of their kind available. This basically means many women who won’t be able to get screened for breast cancer or ovarian cancer–which could result in unnecessary deaths.

Of course, women also deserve the right to safe access for abortions, too–because women should have the right to choose if they want children (or more children, considering most women who get abortions are already mothers). If we truly live in a secular country (aka: one not ruled by religion), this shouldn’t really be an issue. According to a NY Times report, Trump gave PP an ultimatum: stop performing abortions and we won’t defund you.

Again, none of the $500 million in federal funds given to Planned Parenthood goes towards abortion services to begin with. So the decision to defund PP is not actually about abortion at all–it’s more about the fact that women’s health isn’t a priority. Apparently, the government doesn’t care if low-income women die or become sick. Which makes this all become a race and class issue–which is evidently clear.

For me, this news is especially personal–and traumatic. When I was in college, I was sexually assaulted. I became pregnant. I was barely old enough to drink. Because I was in college and worked several part-time jobs to support myself, I went to Planned Parenthood, because I had no other option. Planned Parenthood saved my life, literally. I would be living a much different life if I wasn’t able to access affordable and safe abortions (as in, I would be raising my abuser’s child). I also had access to other health care procedures at PP, which is enough reason to keep funding the organization.

As I’ve written about many times before, we need to normalize abortion–and stop shaming low-income women for not earning enough and for getting pregnant. Because let’s face it, women don’t become pregnant by themselves, and yet, men are never penalized for this. We apparently live in a society where it’s not only OK to silence and ignore women and women’s rights, but also to shame them for not being wealthy enough. Shouldn’t we value all people, regardless of their gender, income, race, and religious background? Haven’t we learned this already? Apparently not.

In the meantime, please find your representatives’ contact information here–and don’t hesitate to call them.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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