Conservatives have been hell-bent on repealing the Affordable Care Act since outgoing President Barack Obama enacted the landmark healthcare reform six years ago. In a late-night session Wednesday, U.S. Senate Republicans moved closer to achieving that perilous goal when the Senate approved by a narrow 51 to 48 vote a budget resolution that would fast-track the repeal of the ACA — otherwise known as "Obamacare" — without a clear replacement. But Senate Democrats didn't let the issue go down quietly, staging a protest during the vote that highlighted the ways the Obamacare repeal will affect parents, people with pre-existing conditions, people of color, women, transgender people, and other marginalized populations.
Since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act has been a savior for parents across the United States. Chest-feeding parents now have a mandated place at work to pump. Required coverage of preventive care has allowed people to diagnose diseases even earlier than before. Young people can now stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26 years old. And broader access to birth control has helped parents better determine if and when they want to expand their families.
But all those healthcare advancements will vanish, almost entirely, if GOP lawmakers are able to successfully undo the historic law. Here are four ways the Obamacare repeal will impact parents.
Breast Pump Coverage
Breast pumps are expensive. The hefty price on even low-end models can keep many new parents from buying a device or chest-feeding altogether. The Affordable Care Act sought to close that gap by mandating all insurance companies to cover the costs of breast-pumping devices. Under the healthcare law, healthcare providers must give new chest-feeding parents either a manual or electric device during pregnancy or directly after birth, without a co-pay. Whether that pump is new or rented is determined by different policies. It's not entirely clear if breast pump coverage will continue if Obamacare is repealed; if it is overturned, then chest-feeding parents may once again be required to give their providers a prescription before a device is paid for through their plan.
Mandated Lactation Rooms
While breast pumping at work is still a hassle, it was a nightmare before the Affordable Care Act came into the picture. Many chest-feeding parents would have to fight their employers for a break to express milk, let alone to have a space to do it that wasn't the bathroom. But under Obamacare, employers are now required to both provide break time for lactation within the first-year of giving birth, as well as set aside a private place where parents can pump uninterrupted. Without the ACA, chest-feeding parents may be forced to return to crouching on a dingy toilet in a bathroom stall at work in order to express milk.
Required Coverage Of Preventive Care
Most people didn't receive preventive care services before the Affordable Care Act was enacted because the cost for those services were too high. Under Obamacare, though, preventive health care is covered without cost sharing. That means services like screenings for breast cancer risk (such as checking for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes), gestational diabetes, heart disease, human papillomavirus (HPV), and as well as screenings and counseling for HIV, STIs and domestic violence, became available to people at no-cost. If the ACA is revoked, though, these preventive services will once again be financially out of reach, and that could jeopardize the lives of parents with a history of cancer in their families, to use one example.
Access To Birth Control
Access to birth control is essential for parents and non-parents alike. Contraception allows people to determine if and when they want to start or expand their family, as well as treat the symptoms of reproductive conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome or endometriosis. Under Obamacare, insurance plans are required to cover birth control at no cost to the patient, with exceptions for religious employers and entities. But if the law were to be repealed, that would spell the absolute end of the mandate. And that would mean that birth control will become expensive and inaccessible to millions of people in the country.