Author : DAWN LAGUENS, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
Posted : 05/05/17 THE HILL
he tally wasn’t even final when Republicans in Congress and the White House began celebrating. Busses were parked in front of the U.S. Capitol, waiting to take Republican members of Congress to the White House for a rose garden photo-op with President Donald Trump. There were even reports that cases of beer were being wheeled into the Capitol while House members began to vote.
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) — the worst piece of legislation for women in a generation, which would blocks patients from access to care at Planned Parenthood and rip health insurance away from millions — passed the House by a razor-thin margin of 217-213.
Immediately, social media lit up with yet more stories of people whoselives were changed by the ACA, or who feared health insurance would beout of their reach because of “pre-existing conditions.” Many of them are women who have had C-sections, or are cancer survivors or sexual assault survivors — including some who have turned to Planned Parenthood for care.
If passed, the AHCA will undo the historic progress made by the Affordable Care Act in leveling the playing field for women when it comes to health care costs. Right now, because more Americans are covered than ever before, and more than 55 million women have access to no-copay birth control, we are at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy, a historic all-time low for teen pregnancy, and the lowest abortion rate since Roe v. Wade was decided.
The AHCA will again make being a woman a pre-existing condition and strip 24 million people of their health insurance — 14 million in the first year alone. It will undermine essential health benefits, including maternity care. It will once again allow insurance companies to charge people withpre-existing conditions exorbitant rates. It will force new moms who rely on Medicaid to go back to work shortly after giving birth. It will reduce access to contraception.
And it will “defund” Planned Parenthood, preventing millions who rely on Medicaid from turning to the 100-year-old health care provider for basic care like birth control, cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing and treatment, and checkups. One in five women have turned to Planned Parenthood for care. More than half of our health centers are in rural or underserved areas where there are few or no other options.
In short, this bill makes it harder to prevent unintended pregnancy, harder to have a healthy pregnancy, and harder to raise a healthy family.
That’s what these Republican politicians were high-fiving and back-slapping each over in the Rose Garden yesterday. It was a shocking display of tin-eared callousness.
Alarm bells should be ringing in every house across America.
Planned Parenthood patients, volunteers, and supporters live in every state and every congressional district in the country. They don’t come to us to make a political statement. They come for health care, and the people who are supposed to be representing them in Washington are trying to tell them they cannot go to the doctor they trust. Three-quarters of Americans believe Planned Parenthood should continue to be reimbursed for providing care to patients who rely on Medicaid – including a majority of Republicans.
They will not stay silent as politicians vote to take away their care and their rights. Women and men across the country will fight to protect access to Planned Parenthood and to defeat this bill.
Here’s the good news: Republicans in Congress and the White House may be celebrating, but they haven’t won anything yet. It is up to the Senate to stop this bill and the harm it will cause millions of people.
Dawn Laguens is the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.