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Our Verdict on the Senate’s “New” Bill to Repeal Health Care: Still Heartless

It should come as no surprise that the “revised” bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was released by Senate Republicans yesterday, is still heartless.

It made the old bill even worse:

  • It punishes people who don’t maintain “continuous coverage.” The bill imposes a six-month waiting period for those who experience a lapse in coverage within the past year. This means if you have a break in coverage for any reason—such as getting a new job—you will have to wait six months for your health insurance to kick-in. Individuals with pre-existing conditions and those struggling to make ends meet are especially likely to experience gaps in coverage and they will be disproportionately penalized by the continuous coverage requirement and waiting period.
  • It may destroy the insurance risk pool. The bill allows individuals to purchase bare-bones health plans, threatening the stability of our health insurance system.  Insurance works by pooling risks:  we all pay for a variety of health services that many of us may never need, such as treatment for diabetes, heart attack, and high blood pressure.  Allowing people to opt-out of the traditional risk pool and purchase bare bones plans that don’t cover many services may cause the risk pool to fall apart, meaning people that need these services can’t get them.
  • It allows insurance plans to opt out of important ACA protections. As long as insurers offer at least two plans that meet the ACA’s coverage requirements and protections, the bill would allow insures to opt-out of almost all the ACA’s consumer protections in the other plans they offer—including provisions of particular importance to women’s health, like the birth control benefit.
  • It adds new restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion. Restrictions that punish women for purchasing a plan that includes abortion are tacked on to nearly every new addition in this bill.

And it still keeps all the provisions from the old bill that devastate women’s health care access:

  • It ends Medicaid as we know it. It slashes and caps Medicaid funding for states, allows states to restructure their own Medicaid funds in ways that will threaten enrollees, and ends the Medicaid expansion. It also allows states to eliminate Medicaid for non-disabled, non-elderly, non-pregnant adults who don’t meet punitive work requirements—including women who don’t return to work just 60 days after giving birth.
  • It ends Essential Health Benefits (EHB) coverage for Medicaid expansion enrollees and threatens EHB coverage for people insured through the individual marketplace.The bill allows states to apply for waivers that could enable states to deny women EHB coverage, which includes maternity care, prescription drug coverage, and mental health coverage. And it outright ends EHB coverage for people enrolled in the Medicaid expansion.
  • It allows states to make being a woman a pre-existing condition.The bill would allow states to once again treat women as pre-existing conditions by eliminating the ACA’s nationwide guarantee of coverage for critical services like maternity care, forcing some women to pay more for health insurance that doesn’t even meet their needs.
  • It “defunds” Planned Parenthood by blocking individuals enrolled in Medicaid from going to Planned Parenthood.This means that individuals will not be able to use their insurance to obtain critical preventive services at Planned Parenthood like birth control, cancer screenings, and testing. Without being able to go to Planned Parenthood, millions of people – especially those struggling to make ends meet, women of color, and younger women – will lose the only source of low-cost preventive care they have.
  • It punishes women who choose health insurance plans that cover abortion. The bill would deny individuals the tax credits they would otherwise receive for purchasing health insurance if they choose a plan that includes abortion coverage, effectively banning private insurance coverage of abortion.

Some in the Senate claim that they are trying to “fix” health care… but as each new draft of this bill is released, it becomes more and more clear that they are dead set on destroying it.